Canadian Pacific Railway workers walk the picket line while on strike at the Cote Saint-Luc railyard in Montreal on Monday

Canadian Pacific Railway workers walk the picket line while on strike at the Cote Saint-Luc railyard in Montreal on Monday

As legislation looms, CP Rail strike ends

CP Rail strike ends as company, employees agree to resume discussions

By Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A day-old strike at Canadian Pacific Railway screeched to an unexpected halt Monday with the company and its union agreeing to binding arbitration just hours before employees were to be legislated back to work.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch was on the verge of introducing a bill to end the labour dispute when she suddenly emerged from the House of Commons to reveal the two sides had beaten her to it.

“The strike is over,” Leitch declared. “I’m incredibly happy that both sides put the interests of Canadians and the Canadian economy first.”

The minister said she welcomed the sudden willingness by the railway (TSX:CP) and the union to resume talks through a mediator — a development that had seemed impossible just hours earlier.

Asked whether the threat of a back-to-work bill had negated the rights of workers to strike, Leitch played down its impact, noting that employees already had the opportunity to strike.

“We have not tabled this legislation,” she said. “We have allowed the parties to meet, to talk and to come to what they think will be the best agreement.”

Earlier Monday, as the House of Commons debated the merits of the back-to-work bill, Leitch said the strike could have cost the Canadian economy more than $200 million in lost GDP every week.

She acknowledged there were still numerous issues on the table, but said the goal was to get service back to 100 per cent by Tuesday morning.

The strike by 3,300 locomotive engineers and other CP train workers began Sunday.

Effects of the stoppage were felt Monday as the strike disrupted service on several Montreal-area commuter train routes, services used by an estimated 19,000 people every day.

The union chose the arbitration and mediation process to avoid being forced back to work by the government, its president said Monday.

“Our preference is to negotiate these improvements through collective bargaining, and the worst thing that could happen is a legislated process,” Teamsters president Douglas Finnson said in a statement.

“These issues are far too important to our members to have a legislated process decide the issue.”

The Teamsters said the dispute resolution process will address issues at the heart of the conflict, including its concerns about worker fatigue. Train service, it added, would resume Tuesday, but only after it had ensured workers were well rested.

In a statement Monday, CP Rail chief executive Hunter Harrison said the company would have preferred a negotiated deal, though he noted the decision brings both sides back to the table.

“This is the right thing to do at this time,” Harrison said.

On Sunday, Peter Edwards, CP’s vice-president of labour relations, said he supported the government’s bill after negotiations failed.

NDP labour critic Alexandre Boulerice said he doesn’t believe the threat of back-to-work legislation helped either side in the dispute.

“The Conservatives always have the same answers: to attack the workers, attack their rights — the constitutional rights — and attack their unions,” Boulerice said.

He hoped the arbitrator would find a solution to the “extreme fatigue” of CP’s drivers.

Liberal labour critic David McGuinty said the government’s willingness to legislate employees back to work signals their contempt for the right to collective bargaining.

“Collective bargaining is a Supreme Court of Canada-upheld right, as recently as several months ago, in a landmark decision. It’s something we believe in. It’s something most Canadians understand,” he said.

“It’s not allowing collective bargaining to take its course. It’s about trying to single out a group, trying to blame it.”

Just Posted

A new laundromat is opening in the Peters Centre in Lake Cowichan. (file photo)
Peters Centre getting all cleaned up

Laundromat being developed at the Neva Road site

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read