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CN makes another call to end strike through binding arbitration

MONTREAL -- On the eve of a back-to-work legislation vote in Ottawa, Canadian National Railways has called again for the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference to agree to binding arbitration.

CN’s locomotive engineers went on strike over the weekend after negotiations for a new contract – which has been expired for 14 months – remained at a standstill. Just 11 hours after the strike began, federal Labour Minister Rona Ambrose served notice she intended to introduce back-to-work legislation.

The feds also introduced a motion that would keep parliament in session once the debate begins. A vote on the legislation could be as early as Wednesday.

Before the roughly 1700 locomotive engineers went on strike, CN offered the unionized workers a pay increase of 1.5 percent and a monthly mileage cap increase from 3800 miles to 4300 miles. The deal was rejected and the strike began Nov. 28.

On the weekend, the TCRC -- through the Federal Mediators -- offered to submit the wage portion of the dispute to final and binding arbitration upon successful resolution of the other outstanding issues. CN declined the TCRC's offer and indicated that final and binding arbitration was the only solution.

CN, however, has decided to make a counter offer to the TCRC in an effort to end the strike. The railway company is offering to: Agree to binding arbitration on wage and benefit issues, and roll-back the 4,300-mile monthly cap for locomotive engineers to 3,800 miles, on the condition that the TCRC withdraws its work-rule demands from the bargaining table.

The agriculture sector was one of the first industries to raise concern over a prolonged strike at the railway, and Port Metro Vancouver is next.

In an open letter to a number of MPs, the port states:

“Port Metro Vancouver therefore urges the federal government to pursue every avenue available to them to encourage the two sides in the dispute to resume negotiations immediately or otherwise reach a settlement and eliminate the present labour uncertainty, as effectively and as quickly as possible.

“While we are aware that CN has the ability to implement strike contingency plans to maintain some freight operations, past experience has shown that the immediate impacts on this gateway will be significant and will escalate dramatically with each passing day of a strike.”

 
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