Arbitrator Orders Wage Hikes For CN Engineers

Farmers who ship grain by rail can expect another two crop years of labour peace between Canadian National Railway (CN) and its 1,700 locomotive engineers.

A federally appointed arbitrator on March 18 ruled that the engineers, represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, will get wage increases of 1.8, 2.4 and 2.6 per cent for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009.

According to a release March 19 from Montrealbased CN, arbitrator Andy Sims’ decision is binding on the railway and its engineers until Dec. 31, 2011.

Sims’ decision also includes improvements to the engineers’ dental plan benefits effective April 1 this year.

Sims, an Edmonton lawyer and vice-chairman of the Alberta Labour Relations Board, was appointed Dec. 18 by then-labour minister Rona Ambrose and given 90 days to settle a new contract between the company and engineers.

The engineers went on strike Nov. 28 but reached an agreement with CN Dec. 2, after Ambrose announced plans Nov. 30 to introduce back-to-work legislation.

Their agreement helped the railway steer clear of a shipping slowdown that analysts feared could have led to a backlog of filled grain cars at elevators across Western Canada.

“With a secure labour agreement in place, we will now work to re-establish a positive dialogue with the TCRC, focusing on issues of common interest for the company, its employees and its customers,” CN CEO Claude Mongeau said.

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