Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Unifor Serves Strike Notice on CP Rail; Could Walk off the Job Sunday

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Unifor Serves Strike Notice on CP Rail; Could Walk off the Job Sunday

Article excerpt

Unifor serves strike notice on CP Rail

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MONTREAL - Federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached in time to avert a railway strike after a second union issued strike notice on Thursday.

The union representing safety and maintenance workers at Canadian Pacific Railway said its members from across the country could be off the job by the weekend if negotiations on a new contract fail.

Earlier this week, the union representing locomotive engineers and other workers served CP with same midnight Saturday deadline.

The 1,800 safety and maintenance workers are represented by Unifor while the 3,300 locomotive engineers conductors, trainmen and yardmen from across Canada are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail conference union.

The labour strife could hamper freight service across the country, but negotiations are ongoing in Montreal with the help of federal mediators.

Leitch said in an email that it would be "inappropriate" to speculate on what, if any government action could be taken while negotiations were still ongoing.

In 2012, the federal government passed legislation to force an end to a nine-day strike by some 4,800 striking members of the Teamsters union and CP Rail employees.

The government said at the time that a prolonged strike would cost the Canadian economy $540 million a week.

Leitch said Thursday that a negotiated settlement is the best-case scenario.

"We believe that the best solution is the one that parties reach themselves ... We strongly encourage both sides to work together and reach an agreement that will ensure the continuation of rail services," she said.

Unifor's national rail director Brian Stevens said the two sides remain far apart on the issues, which include working conditions, representation, health and safety.

"Anything is entirely possible. …

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