CN railway strike ends

MONTREAL — That wasn’t so bad was it? The four-day strike by CN Rail locomotive engineers ended just hours before Parliament was set to debate back-to-work legislation introduced by the federal government.

The company and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union reached agreement on resolving outstanding contractual issues related to wages, benefits and work rules through further negotiations and, if necessary, binding arbitration.

As part of this process, CN will roll back the monthly mileage cap for locomotive engineers to the previous 3,800 miles from the 4,300-mile cap initiated Nov. 28, and withdraw its plan to apply a 1.5 per cent wage increase to TCRC members.

Labour Minister Rona Ambrose credited the back-to-work bill — which would have referred all outstanding issues to arbitration — for the two sides coming together,

The government was concerned the strike would anchor down Canada’s economy just as it was expected to begin showing improvements.

In a press release, E. Hunter Harrison, president and CEO thanked managers who stepped in this week to keep freight moving as best as possible. "Keeping our trains running has been important to our customers and indeed the entire Canadian economy."

The parties can also agree to submit work-rule issues to binding arbitration but only if they mutually agree on the ones that should be subject to arbitration. If there is no agreement, the issues in dispute will not be subject to arbitration, says CN.

The 1,700 engineers, many of which get paid over $100,000 a year, have been without a contract since Dec. 2008. 

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