Canadian Pacific Railway workers walk the picket line while on strike at the Cote Saint-Luc railyard in Montreal on Monday

Canadian Pacific Railway workers walk the picket line while on strike at the Cote Saint-Luc railyard in Montreal on Monday

As legislation looms, CP Rail strike ends

CP Rail strike ends as company, employees agree to resume discussions

By Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A day-old strike at Canadian Pacific Railway screeched to an unexpected halt Monday with the company and its union agreeing to binding arbitration just hours before employees were to be legislated back to work.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch was on the verge of introducing a bill to end the labour dispute when she suddenly emerged from the House of Commons to reveal the two sides had beaten her to it.

“The strike is over,” Leitch declared. “I’m incredibly happy that both sides put the interests of Canadians and the Canadian economy first.”

The minister said she welcomed the sudden willingness by the railway (TSX:CP) and the union to resume talks through a mediator — a development that had seemed impossible just hours earlier.

Asked whether the threat of a back-to-work bill had negated the rights of workers to strike, Leitch played down its impact, noting that employees already had the opportunity to strike.

“We have not tabled this legislation,” she said. “We have allowed the parties to meet, to talk and to come to what they think will be the best agreement.”

Earlier Monday, as the House of Commons debated the merits of the back-to-work bill, Leitch said the strike could have cost the Canadian economy more than $200 million in lost GDP every week.

She acknowledged there were still numerous issues on the table, but said the goal was to get service back to 100 per cent by Tuesday morning.

The strike by 3,300 locomotive engineers and other CP train workers began Sunday.

Effects of the stoppage were felt Monday as the strike disrupted service on several Montreal-area commuter train routes, services used by an estimated 19,000 people every day.

The union chose the arbitration and mediation process to avoid being forced back to work by the government, its president said Monday.

“Our preference is to negotiate these improvements through collective bargaining, and the worst thing that could happen is a legislated process,” Teamsters president Douglas Finnson said in a statement.

“These issues are far too important to our members to have a legislated process decide the issue.”

The Teamsters said the dispute resolution process will address issues at the heart of the conflict, including its concerns about worker fatigue. Train service, it added, would resume Tuesday, but only after it had ensured workers were well rested.

In a statement Monday, CP Rail chief executive Hunter Harrison said the company would have preferred a negotiated deal, though he noted the decision brings both sides back to the table.

“This is the right thing to do at this time,” Harrison said.

On Sunday, Peter Edwards, CP’s vice-president of labour relations, said he supported the government’s bill after negotiations failed.

NDP labour critic Alexandre Boulerice said he doesn’t believe the threat of back-to-work legislation helped either side in the dispute.

“The Conservatives always have the same answers: to attack the workers, attack their rights — the constitutional rights — and attack their unions,” Boulerice said.

He hoped the arbitrator would find a solution to the “extreme fatigue” of CP’s drivers.

Liberal labour critic David McGuinty said the government’s willingness to legislate employees back to work signals their contempt for the right to collective bargaining.

“Collective bargaining is a Supreme Court of Canada-upheld right, as recently as several months ago, in a landmark decision. It’s something we believe in. It’s something most Canadians understand,” he said.

“It’s not allowing collective bargaining to take its course. It’s about trying to single out a group, trying to blame it.”

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read