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Ottawa Appoints Mediator In CN Dispute

Veteran mediator Andrew Sims has been appointed as arbitrator in the contract negotiations between CN and its 1,700 locomotive engineers.

The railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference agreed to binding arbitration in early December after a brief strike. They’ve reported little progress in subsequent contract sessions.

Labour Minister Rona Ambrose said the presence of Sims should enable the parties to “successfully reach a collective agreement and improve their working relationship.”

Sims is a nationally recognized labour arbitrator and mediator. He has held the positions of chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board and part-time vice-chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board.CNand the union agreed to

send issues related to wages and benefits and other unresolved matters to arbitration. Sims’ decisions will be final and binding on the parties.

Ambrose was on the verge of introducing back-to-work legislation, which was to have been passed through all stages in the Commons in one day, when CN and the union agreed to go back to the bargaining table.

“Back-to-work legislation applied very real pressure on the parties,” she said. “Continuing the strike for any further amount of time would have had grave consequences for our economy.”

CN agreed to roll back the monthly mileage cap for locomotive engineers to the previous 3,800 miles from the 4,300-mile cap initiated Nov. 28, and withdraw its plan to apply a 1.5 per cent wage increase to TCRC members. The union’s previous contract expired at the end of last year.

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