plans to end CN labour dispute
Published: April 17th 2007
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The federal government plans to legislate an end
to the CN strike and lockout, Labour Minister
Jean-Pierre Blackburn said Monday.
"Now, it's time to act," he told reporters.
"Employers and many groups said they would like
to see our government acting," he said, citing
the loss of $1 billion in exports during the
two-week CN Rail strike in February.
It was not immediately clear how long it would
take to get a bill through Parliament.
In another development, CN Rail said it is going
to try to negotiate regional agreements with
members of the United Transportation Union
because a national agreement is not possible.
"This bargaining process is broken" because the
union is divided internally, president and CEO
Hunter Harrison said in a statement Monday.
"In light of the continuing internal conflicts
within the UTU, CN believes it's increasingly
clear that the union today is unable to deliver
a national negotiated settlement that its
members across Canada would ratify," CN said.
CN said it has invited the union to discuss
regional settlements, although no talks are
scheduled. CN and the union held exploratory
talks over the weekend.
Among the internal disputes, CN said:
faction is reporting for work while
labour regulators decide whether the UTU
or the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
will represent the workers.
faction started rotating strikes last
week. CN locked those workers out.
eight months of negotiations, we are no closer
to a national agreement," Harrison said. "Since
the start of negotiations, the union has failed
to present a unified agenda that could be used
as a foundation for a negotiated settlement. …
We now feel that regional deals are the best
alternative to achieve this at the bargaining
On March 1, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
applied to certify the conductors and trainmen
represented by UTU.
"UTU members have made it loud and clear: They
want to belong to the same labour body as CN's
locomotive engineers," Teamsters Rail president
Dan Shewchuk said.
The UTU workers were on strike for 15 days
beginning Feb. 10.
Shippers want Parliament to pass legislation
Talks resumed under the threat of back-to-work
legislation tabled in Parliament on Feb. 24. A
tentative deal was reached, but union members
rejected it last week.
Some workers began rotating strikes, and CN
locked them out.
The company said it's moving freight with
managers doing workers' jobs, but shippers said
Monday that Parliament should quickly pass the
"Shippers serving highly competitive export
markets and retailers needing to stock their
shelves with seasonal imported merchandise will
all be affected," said Bob Ballantyne, president
of the Canadian Industrial Transportation