More Than 3,000 Train Operators at Canadian Pacific Rail on Strike

MONTREALCanadian Pacific Rail’s more than 3,000 train operators walked off the job late Tuesday night while a second group of workers reached a tentative contract settlement with the rail company.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said its workers walked out at 10 p.m. EDT as negotiations continued with the assistance of federal mediators.

That announcement came just minutes after CP Rail said a tentative deal had been reached with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for 360 signalling workers who were also poised to walk off the job at 10 p.m.

The Teamsters said the strike by its members began despite “best efforts to reach a negotiated settlement,” adding it is “willing to remain at the bargaining table during the strike.”

It also said commuter train services in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are operated by Bombardier, not Canadian Pacific, and Teamster members who operate trains in those cities are Bombardier employees and will not go on strike.

As a result, said the Teamsters, commuter train services would not be affected by the walkout.

Via, however, had already cancelled passenger rail service starting Tuesday morning in Ontario between Sudbury and White River.

CP Rail has said it will use qualified management staff to handle signalling and switching tasks so trains can continue to operate.

However, the strike could force the railroad to shut down its freight service at a particularly bad time for grain farmers. Shippers had said they expected talks would fail, resulting in the third CP Rail strike since 2012.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier in the day that the federal government would not be rushed into introducing back-to-work legislation, preferring instead to employ various levers to motivate both sides to reach a settlement.

 

The train operators voted 94 percent in favour of strike action to back their contract demands in early April and voted 98 per cent to reject CP’s final offer last Friday.

Both unions gave the railway notice over the weekend that they plan to walk off the job to support contract demands.

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