728 x 90

HBR employees have been given layoff notices


Employees at Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) have been served layoff notices as of late last month.
News of the layoff trickled out and no official statement has been issued by the company. A message left with General Manager Justin McCullough seeking comment on the layoffs was not returned.
The number of employees served layoff notices is unclear, however after receiving notice of layoffs some of the employees were put on an on call list.
Rail service is also expected to be reduced. On Friday it was announced that shipments of fuel to Thompson were being reduced to once per week, a notice which prompted Churchill Keewatinook-Aski Member of Parliament Niki Ashton to sound off on HBR’s parent company Omni-Trax, calling the action “retaliatory measures,” in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press.
Omni-Trax, the province and the federal government have been at loggerheads since spring when the rail line between Gillam and Churchill had sections washed out by flooding. Omni-Trax has refused to repair the line, stating the cost to do so would not be feasible with stakeholders, a stance the federal government has taken issue with, claiming Omni-Trax had a contractual obligation to do the repairs based upon terms of funding Canada gave to Omni-Trax a decade ago.
The back and forth has gone on throughout the year and the federal government recently issued a statement calling on repairs to begin immediately or the matter will end up in court.
Efforts to contact union representatives were unsuccessful as of presstime.
Some layoffs were also reported last spring when Omni-Trax announced they would be cancelling the grain shipping season in 2016, the first time that had been done since the mid-1940’s. Due to the washout of the rail line the grain shipping season was also cancelled this year as well.
The lack of rail service to Churchill has had significant impacts on the community with job loss and skyrocketing prices being experienced.

Trent Allen