TORONTO-Canada's plastics industry would be hurt by a lengthy railway strike, but executives hope government legislation soon will end the impasse. Plastics officials said their firms survived the early days of the strike, but problems would multiply if it lasts much longer than a week. Nationwide rail freight traffic has been crippled since March 18, when CN Rail union members variously went on strike, were laid off or were locked out. Several days before, CP Rail locked out its workers, leaving managers to run the railway at reduced capacity.
Film extruder Winpak Ltd., located near the center of the country in Winnipeg, Manitoba, relies on rail for resin and finished product transportation.
Winpak President J. Robert Lavery said the strike disrupted shipment of a hard-to-get resin waiting in Montreal.
``[The strike] can be a problem because some resins are on allocation,'' Lavery said in a telephone interview.
Winpak is trucking other resins in at higher cost to try to prevent disruptions to customers. A shipment to an overseas affiliate, however, is on hold because of the strike.
Canada's government introduced back-to-work legislation March 22, despite resistance from opposition party Bloc Quebecois, which maintained the impasse should go through normal mediation. Even with quick passage of the legislation, rail service would be disrupted at least until March 27.
Auto parts molder Decoma International Inc. said March 22 that effects of the strike ``so far have not been too bad.'' Auto assembly has been disrupted most at Decoma customer Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd.'s plants in St. Thomas and Oakville, Ontario.
Decoma trucks in its raw materials, said Randy Smallbone, vice president of finance for the Concord, Ontario, firm.
General Motors of Canada Ltd. and Chrysler Canada Ltd. rely on truck fleets to source most parts, according to Smallbone.
``So far, [GM and Chrysler] seem able to get truck fleets but if their parts inventories go down, will there be enough trucking [capacity] to cover it?'' he said.
Resin producer Novacor Chemicals Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, knew a strike ``had been hanging over us'' and prepared contingency plans, according to spokesman Jeff Flood. It uses railcars extensively to supply major markets distant from its Alberta plant.
Novacor built inventory at customers' plants before the strike and filled capacity at several places for truck shipment.
``For one or two weeks we will be fairly comfortable,'' he said. ``Beyond that, it could get uncomfortable.''