Thursday, December 3, 2009

Canadian Rail Freight Strike Over

Agreements not yet Finalised but Arbitration Agreed.
Shipping News Feature

CANADA – The strike by Canadian National (CN) engineers which started on Saturday has ended with a tentative agreement over future working terms. The 1700 workers, represented by the Teamsters Union reached agreement with employers last night before serious damage had been done to the company’s shipping business.

The strike, which CN management insisted would only ever impinge on freight services and not passenger timetables, was over the disparity between the miles travelled under contract by engineers as opposed to those by guards, as detailed in our article of 30th November.

CN have agreed to suspend their insistence on a higher maximum mileage cap for the affected staff whilst negotiations continue. If after intensive talks no agreement is reached, the two sides have guaranteed to each other they will submit their cases to an independent arbitrator and both will accept this body’s decision as binding. The arbitrator would be appointed by the Federal Government and is to have jurisdiction over any work to rule issues where the sides disagree.

The imposition of a higher mileage cap on the engineers by CN was always bound to end in a dispute. The two sides have been arguing over new contracts since 2008 and shipping companies will be delighted at the outcome, a prolonged dispute would have had serious consequences for the Canadian economy with grain, the principal cargo, almost exclusively travelling by rail freight.