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TORONTO, Ont. — Members of Canadian National Railway’s largest union, the Canadian Auto Workers, have voted in favour of a strike mandate.

The strike or lockout action became legal effective yesterday, but is subject to 72 hours’ notice by the party wishing to take action.

The 89 percent strike mandate comes after the failure of talks and conciliation aimed at renewing collective agreements, which expired Dec. 31.

More than 70 percent of eligible voters cast secret ballots after mass meetings across Canada last week.

The key issue is wages. CN earned after-tax profits of $937 million in 2000, up 18 per cent from the year before, and the union is arguing its members deserve a bigger cut of that money.

The CAW represents more than 5,000 employees of CN Rail, including workers who repair, maintain and conduct safety inspections on locomotives and freight cars, customer service representatives, intermodal yard employees, and clerical employees throughout the CN system.

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