Rail, union reach deal
Published: February 24th 2007
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CN Rail and the union representing nearly
3,000 striking workers have reached a tentative
agreement to end a two-week walkout, which has
crippled freight service nationally and taken a
serious toll on some industries.
After reaching the deal during talks in Montreal
on Saturday, the United Transportation Union
said it is urging the 2,800 conductors and yard
service workers to return to work while members
vote on the deal.
Technically, the workers — who walked off the
job on Feb. 10, crippling freight service
nationally — would continue to be on strike
until the deal was ratified.
"We are retaining our strike mandate during the
ratification process; however, we are urging all
members to return to work during the
ratification process," the union's Canadian vice
presidents and chief negotiators, John Armstrong
and Robert Sharpe, said in a press release.
"We are hopeful that this will greatly reduce
the possibility of the Canadian government
continuing to move forward on back-to-work
legislation until such time as the ratification
process is completed and the results known."
Mark Hallman, the director of communications for
CN Rail in Toronto, said management will
continue to fill in for striking workers until
the strike is over.
"I can't speculate when operations will return
to normal. I can't make any predictions," he
told CBC News Online on Saturday. "We are
pleased that we have reached this agreement."
Strike had serious economic impact
The federal government brought in back-to-work
legislation on Friday to end the strike, but
Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said it
could take four or five days to pass it.
Blackburn told the House of Commons that the
government could not allow the strike to
continue because it was causing layoffs,
backlogs and supply shortages throughout
industries and in communities across the
According to the Western Canadian Shippers'
Coalition, the strike has been having a serious
impact on producers of forest products, coal,
sulphur and grain.
The strike has not affected Via Rail or commuter
rail traffic in Montreal and Toronto.
Details of deal not yet public
The union said in its press release Saturday
that details of the proposed contract would not
be made public until members receive information
about the tentative deal. The main issues in the
strike were wages and benefits.
Armstrong and Sharpe said union members will
receive details of the agreement along with
their mail-in ballots. They said the union
thinks the tentative deal is currently the "best
option" for members.
"The tentative agreement allows UTU members the
opportunity to have a voice and exercise their
democratic right in this crucial decision," they
Ballots will be counted at union offices in
Ottawa on March 26.
With files from the Canadian Press