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Le ministre fédéral du Travail Jean-Pierre BlackburnOttawa plans to end CN labour dispute
Source: CBC
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:
bullet One UTU faction is reporting for work while labour regulators decide whether the UTU or the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference will represent the workers.
bullet Another faction started rotating strikes last week. CN locked those workers out.

Train du CN"After 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 table."

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 quickly
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 back-to-work legislation.

"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 Association.

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