Update: CP Rail Strike Ends, Headed to Arbitration

CP conductors and engineers on strike (Photo credit: facebook.com/teamsterscanada)

Updated 3pm CST February 16

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch says the CP Rail strike is over, as the railway and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference have agreed to arbitration.

The federal government was planning to table legislation on Monday that would force around 3,000 Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive engineers and conductors back to work.

The members of the Teamsters union walked off the job at 12:01 Sunday morning after the union and railway failed to reach a deal.

Shift scheduling and working hours appeared to be a main issue in the dispute, as the union said CP was not complying with collective agreements that require train crews stop operating after 10 continuous hours of work.

On the other side, the railway said it offered concessions on work schedules, as well as wage increases and improved benefit plans.

“We have wanted to make a deal for more than a year, and have been presenting the TCRC leadership with dynamic options and choices to improve the quality of life for employees while driving efficiencies in our business,” said Hunter Harrison, CP’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our conductors and engineers have plenty of options for time off, but the vast majority don’t take full advantage of those opportunities. We want to implement a model that allows us to properly schedule crews while maintaining the highest standards of safe railroading.”

CP said it was deploying “qualified management employees” to operate some trains, while working with customers to advise them on how they might be affected by the labour stoppage.

Meanwhile, CP was able to avoid a separate strike by around 1,200 maintenance employees represented by Unifor. The two sides reached a tentative four-year agreement just before the strike deadline at midnight on Saturday.

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