Churchill, MB has been reeling since the layoffs at the Port of Churchill, the community’s largest employer, and the closure of the Hudson Bay Railway, the only way to access the community by land.   Our members at the port have been living in uncertainty thanks to OmniTrax Inc. for over a year now and things are not getting better.  The entire community is under attack by this private employer’s unscrupulous behaviour.  OmniTrax Inc has consciously decided to raise gas prices by $2 per liter just in time for winter.  This is privatization at its worst.

UCTE continues to lobby and fight for government intervention to help the community.  Below is a recent letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press in response to OmniTrax’s most recent violation of the people of Churchill MB.

November 3, 2017

Dear Editor

The latest blow to the people of Churchill is both an outrage and a disgrace. They have been treated poorly and disrespected by OmniTrax for years while the federal and provincial governments blame each other for the mess that has been created in northern Manitoba. Our members are mad as hell and who could blame them. Their employment at the Port has been limited by inaction and ineptitude. Their main access out of the community, the rail line lies in disarray while the parties who could fix it bicker amongst themselves. Now they are being forced to deal with $2 per litre gasoline increase as the coldest days of the year begin.

It’s time for action and no more words on behalf of the people who are in a position to help. At this point OmniTrax is a lost cause for the people of Churchill. It’s time to kick them out and for the feds to take over the Port of Churchill. We, our members and the community are ready and willing to assist in bringing this vital engine back to life, hopefully as a Port Authority that can be responsive and responsible to the community. It’s also time for the Province to step in with some money instead of their “blame-thrower”. They could start with a fuel subsidy to offset the exorbitant gasoline prices that northern communities are facing. Then they could sit down with all the partners in Churchill to help develop an economic plan that includes fixing the rail line and re-opening the valuable Port of Churchill for business again.

Until these things happen, the people in Churchill have a right to be angry. It’s time to show them the respect they are due and the support that they need.

 

Teresa Eschuk

National Vice President

Union of Canadian Transportation Employees