June 21st, 2024

Rail workers reject binding arbitration offer as strike threat still looms: CN

By The Canadian Press on June 6, 2024.

Canadian National Railway Co. says rail workers have rejected its offer to enter into binding arbitration, as the country's largest railroad operator looks to steer clear of a strike down the line. CN rail trains are shown in Vaughan, Ont., on June 20, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

MONTREAL – Canadian National Railway Co. says rail workers have rejected its offer to enter into binding arbitration, as the country’s largest railroad operator looks to steer clear of a strike.

The process, when agreed to, sees a mutually approved arbitrator settle the labour dispute by deciding the terms of a new collective agreement between the parties.

CN says it has put forward two proposals: one looked to pay hourly wages to workers on a schedule, in a change from the longstanding practice of pay per mile with no schedule; the other aimed to extend parts of the current arrangement.

Teamsters Canada has countered that the first offer involved what it called “forced relocation” of workers for months at a time, while the second would compel shifts of up to 12 hours – in line with regulations, but beyond the 10-hour ceiling currently available to employees and upping the risk of accidents, the union says.

Last month, employees at CN and Canadian Pacific Kansas City Ltd. authorized a strike mandate that could see some 9,300 workers walk off the job if they are unable to reach new agreements.

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan, in an apparent move to delay a potential strike, stepped in by asking the country’s labour board to review whether a work stoppage would jeopardize Canadians’ health and safety. A decision is unlikely before mid-July, according to both railways.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR, TSX:CP)

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