Officials with Canadian Pacific Railway and the union representingnearly 5,000 of its workers say commuter trains in Montreal,Vancouver and Toronto will keep running in the event of a strike. Members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference can legally walkoff the job one minute after midnight Wednesday local time if adeal isn't reached. But now rail passengers on AMT, West CoastExpress and GO Transit networks won't be affected if the deadlinepasses without a deal. The two sides met with federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt onTuesday morning and continued their negotiations throughout theday. |
"At the request of the minister of labour, and as ademonstration of goodwill, CP has agreed to allow operation of thethree metro commuter services in Canada," said CP spokesman EdGreenberg. "The union continues to threaten to withdraw its members' servicesfor the remainder of the CP Canadian freight network." Two inter-city Via Rail routes in Ontario that use CPinfrastructure will still be affected if there's a strike: betweenSudbury and White River and the Brockville-to-Ottawa segment of theToronto-Ottawa route. That list would have been longer had the two sides not reached adeal, said Via spokesman Malcolm Andrews. "We would have had some runs to Kitchener, London, Sarnia thatwould have been affected, but because of what they were able to do,those lines now are not affected." "VIA is considering all possible options for trains that areaffected," it said in a release, "and where possible will eitherdetour or replace by bus for a portion of the trip.
It promised to post details will be posted on its website "as the situation evolves." In an interview with CBC's As It Happens , Raitt wouldn't say whether the government would bring inback-to-work legislation. Earlier this year, Raitt stepped in tohalt a strike at Air Canada. "Our government has made no secret over the fact that we wereelected with a strong mandate to ensure Canada's economy continuesto grow and prosper...and that's what we're there to do," she said. "In this case, if there's a work stoppage, we're going to continueto monitor and see what the effects are." Asked if there was legislation in the works, Raitt said, "I havenothing but my good intentions at the table to help these guys dothe deal. Talking about legislation really isn't going to help thematter." Douglas Finnson, vice-president of the Teamsters Canada RailConference, described the meeting with Raitt as "very positive,"but said he couldn't comment on the specific topics that werediscussed.
The major points of contention are pensions, some work rules andfatigue management, Finnson said. Greenberg said the company is willing to proceed into bindingarbitration or extend the negotiation period if a deal isn'treached by the deadline. 'I think I've heard enough from both sides that they realize what'sat stake' Prof. George Smith "Meetings are continuing, so that's a positive sign for ourcompany," he said. A strike would halt shipments of grain, fertilizer, coal and othergoods Canadian Pacific moves along nearly 24,000 kilometres oftrack in Canada and the U.S.
Greenberg added a work stoppage could have ripple effects on otherrailways that connect to the CP network. No contract since October The strike threat comes at a time of major changes at Canada'ssecond-biggest railway. A bruising months-long proxy fight with the railway's biggestshareholder culminated last week in Fred Green's exit as CEO. NewYork hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management argued therailway was lagging its peers under Green's leadership and that achange in CEO was necessary.
Green and five other board members stepped down hours before thecompany's annual general meeting last Thursday after it becameevident shareholders had voted overwhelmingly for director nomineeson Pershing's slate. The Teamsters' Finnson said the union has not yet met with Green'sinterim replacement, Stephen Tobias. He said the management shakeuphas not affected the bargaining process one way or the other. Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman told shareholders at the annualmeeting that change would not happen overnight, but that CanadianPacific could become one of the best railways in the world.
CP's new leadership will have a tough time balancing shareholders'high expectations against the labour challenges the railway is upagainst, said Smith. "In a certain sense, the new management is boxed in by theirdeclaration of an economic revival for CP," he said. "The shareholders don't see that. They see new people who promisedgreat things and here's the first test of it. Only it came a littlesooner than anyone expected." With files from CBC News.
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