Feds ‘closely monitoring’ CN labour dispute

Canada’s government is closely monitoring a dispute between Canadian National Railway and its conductors’ and yardmen’s union and is urging both parties to continue talking, a spokeswoman for Labour Minister Kellie Leitch said Tuesday.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) said Monday talks had broken down, raising the possibility of a strike or a lockout at the country’s largest railroad operator once a union-set Oct. 28 deadline is passed.

Rail shipments move crucial commodities across Canada, including potash, coal and grain. This year’s crop output in Western Canada is expected to be one of the largest on record.

“Minister Leitch encourages both parties to continue negotiating and reach a new collective agreement as soon as possible, as the best solution in any dispute is always the one that the parties reach themselves,” said the spokeswoman.

“We are monitoring the situation closely.”

CN and the union are scheduled to resume collective bargaining on Oct. 21 with government-appointed mediators, railway spokesman Mark Hallman said.

The federal government in May last year passed back-to-work legislation forcing an end to a strike at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).

The spokeswoman did not respond when asked whether Ottawa would be prepared to intervene if CN workers went on strike. The TCRC represents about 3,300 conductors, trainmen, yardmen and traffic co-ordinators at CN. — Reuters

Related story:
Strike looms as talks between union, CN break down, Oct. 15, 2013

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