C-46 Now Law|| |
Published: April 19th 2007
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CN Rail lifted its lockout of more than 300
workers Wednesday after federal back-to-work
legislation received royal assent.
CN said it invited workers to return to their
jobs as of 7 p.m. ET Wednesday night. The
employees are expected to be back at work as
early as Thursday, ending a week of rotating
Reports say the United Transportation Union is
instructing its members to return to their jobs.
The House of Commons passed a bill Tuesday night
to force an end to the dispute. Ottawa said the
economy was threatened because the two sides
appeared to be unable to resolve their
differences. The legislation takes effect
"We cannot let this situation go on," Labour
Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said. "We simply
cannot allow the parties to jeopardize our
The back-to-work bill passed easily Tuesday
night. The bill now goes to the Senate. It could
get royal assent and become law this week.
It's the first time the federal government has
used back-to-work legislation to end a labour
dispute in eight years.
The UTU, which represents 2,800 yard workers and
conductors, said it would continue to press for
better working conditions for its members.
"This bill appears to be intended to pave the
way for CN Rail to attack our rights," UTU
vice-president John Armstrong said in a
statement released after the vote.
Regional deals targeted
"They want to break up our bargaining unit in
order to weaken the workers' ability to stop
management from pushing older workers out of the
way and manipulating work rules and schedules at
The railway announced two days ago it would try
to pursue regional contracts with its employees,
saying it could not reach a nationwide
settlement because of union infighting. The
union said it would file an unfair labour
Rotating strikes began April 10 after union
members rejected a tentative deal reached to end
a 15-day strike in February.
CN then locked out hundreds of workers who
participated in the rotating strikes.
The strike in February prompted many industries
to complain of serious problems in shipping or
receiving material. CN management was able to
keep many trains running, but could not maintain
Major industrial users of the rail freight
system welcomed news of back-to-work
"Canada's forest products industry has yet to
recover from the impact of last February's
strike, and this latest walkout has resulted in
significant service disruptions, lost contracts
and penalties for our members," said Avrim
Lazar, chief executive of the Forest Products
Association of Canada.
Statistics Canada said the February work
stoppage contributed to a decline of more than
$900 million in Canada's trade surplus that
month as exporters struggled to ship goods to
the United States.
With files from Canadian Press