REUTERS reports on Teamster Freight Rail Strike in Canada.

CP Rail’s train engineers, conductors go on strike in Canada: union

TORONTO Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:59am EST

A Canadian Pacific Railway crew works on their train at the CP Rail yards in Calgary, Alberta, in this file photo taken April 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files

A Canadian Pacific Railway crew works on their train at the CP Rail yards in Calgary, Alberta, in this file photo taken April 29, 2014.

CREDIT: REUTERS/TODD KOROL/FILES

(Reuters) – Canadian Pacific Railway’s train engineers and conductors walked off the job on Sunday as a midnight deadline to reach agreement on a new contract passed, setting the stage for back-to-work legislation to be enacted by the government.

Canada’s No. 2 railway had reached a last-minute deal with another union, Unifor, which represents safety and maintenance workers minutes before the deadline.

But it did not agree terms with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represent more than 3,000 locomotive engineers and conductors.

“Canadian Pacific workers are now on strike,” Teamsters Canada said on its Twitter feed. A spokesman confirmed the workers had walked off the job.

The Teamsters and Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, had both set a Feb. 15 strike deadline.

CP, which also has a substantial U.S. network, said last week that its managers will be ready to take over if engineers and conductors go on strike.

Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel said the Calgary-based company has been preparing for a strike for two years. He said that if one goes ahead it would reduce earnings per share by about one cent per day.

CP earned C$2.63 a share in the fourth quarter.

The Canadian government joined contract talks between CP and unionized staff on Friday to help stave off a potential strike but it also began laying the groundwork to introduce back-to-work legislation.

The Conservative government put the legislation on Parliament’s notice paper for Monday, meaning it could pass it into law soon after any strike.

In recent years, the government has intervened or threatened to intervene in several major labor disputes in the transportation sector.

Unpredictable schedules and fatigue problems have been key issues in the Teamsters negotiations. CP Rail has said union demands were unreasonable.

Scheduling has been an ongoing labor issue at both CP Rail and at Canadian National Railway Co, Canada’s largest rail operator.

CN reached a tentative deal with the Teamsters union on Saturday and is still in talks with Unifor. Unlike CP Rail, it had not faced a strike deadline from either union.

(Reporting by Amran Abocar; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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News and political commentary from the point of view of the social interests of the international working class.
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