Engineers, conductors and rail traffic controllers at Canada’s second largest railroad, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, walked off the job about midnight Wednesday after failing to reach a contract agreement.
CP Rail’s Freight service has been shut down across Canada. Due to a prior agreement, three commuter-train services remain in operation in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Many industries are threatened by the economical toll the strike will take. Federal Labor Minster Lisa Raitt said “The work stoppage at CP, which ships grain, fertilizer, coal and other goods across the country, would result in C$540 million ($525 million) in lost economic activity each week.” Raitt adds the government is willing to introduce back-to-work legislation as of Monday and end the strike. “The best solution is always the one that the parties reach themselves,” Raitt said. “I urge the parties to resume negotiations and work diligently to reach negotiated agreements or agree to submit to a binding process to settle their disputes.” Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Vice President Doug Finnson added “We have made every reasonable effort to get a settlement. Every union member knows how important the outstanding issues are. We will not walk away from the negotiation table.”
The two parties continue to meet with the Ottawa government and mediators.