CP engineers, conductors halt strike

(Dave Bedard photo)

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and its unionized conductors, engineers, trainmen and yardmen agreed Monday to binding arbitration in their contract talks, ending a strike the day after it began.

The end of the strike, which began Sunday just after midnight, comes under the threat of federal back-to-work legislation, which was due to be tabled Monday in the House of Commons.

CP said Monday the federal government will appoint an arbitrator to settle outstanding issues, and would release “no further details… at this time.”

“While we would have preferred a negotiated settlement, this is the right thing to do at this time,” CP CEO Hunter Harrison said in a release.

“I am extremely pleased that CP and the (Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the employees) have decided to send their outstanding issues to voluntary arbitration,” federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch said Monday in a separate release.

“This will bring an end to the work stoppage that could have seriously harmed the Canadian economy.”

Unionized workers “are once again being blamed for not accepting the U.S. style of labour relations imported into CP,” TCRC chief Doug Finnson said in a separate statement.

“It seems lost on the government that the Supreme Court has supported workers’ rights in this area and it seems lost on the government that the workers at CP are under attack every working day.”

Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May on Monday ripped Leitch’s previous statements laying blame on the affected employees’ union.

“Blaming the TCRC, as (Leitch) has done, rather than staying neutral, illustrates her complete lack of knowledge and expertise in labour relations,” May said, adding “not a word was mentioned about any responsibility that (CP) management may have in the failure to come to an agreement.”

Bloc Quebecois leader Mario Beaulieu on Monday also ripped the government’s plans for back-to-work legislation, saying its repeated use leads to an imbalance in any negotiations. “It’s the ability to negotiate that’s being attacked,” he said in a separate release. — AGCanada.com Network

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