Government bill brings end to CP Rail union strike

Legislation forces striking CP workers back to work and calls for an arbitrator to determine a new labour agreement.

  • Jun. 6, 2012 7:00 p.m.

The trains are moving again after back-to-work legislation passed through Parliament last week.

The legislation, dubbed the Restoring Rail Services Act, was introduced in the House of Commons by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on Monday. It was passed by the House on Wednesday and by the Senate on Thursday.

The legislation forced the striking CP workers back to work and calls for an arbitrator to determine a new labour agreement. There are heavy fines for violations.

Doug Finsson, a vice-president and negotiator with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, said the union was generally supportive of the legislation.

“This legislation doesn’t seem to favour one party or the other, which was the criticism of some of the features in previous legislation,”  Finsson said Monday, referring to previous back-to-work bills. “In my opinion, what this does is it places a significant emphasis on who the arbitrator is….”

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents about 4,800 CP Rail engineers and conductors across Canada had been on strike since last Wednesday.

The back-to-work legislation was not a surprise to local union officials.

“We’re used to it,” said Les Daley, the chairman of the local engineers during a rally by union members last Friday, before the legislation was introduced.

The Federal government put the cost of the strike to the Canadian economy at about $540 million per week.

Employee pensions have emerged as the biggest issue in negotiations, with the company looking to roll back pensions by as much as 40 per cent, according to union officials. CP says it has spent $1.9 billion over the last three years on reaching its pension commitments and is looking for a system closer to that of CN Rail, which caps pensions at $60,000 per year.

The union has said that comparison is flawed, as CN employees opted for higher wages and lower pensions, while CP employees went the opposite route.

“The real issue here is an unsustainable defined benefit pension plan, one that jeopardizes the near-term and long term-viability and competitiveness of our company,” said Peter Edwards, CP’s vice-president of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, in an address to the Senate on Thursday.

Fatigue management is also an issue, with the union looking for steadier scheduling and the ability to book more time off.

-Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Times Review

Just Posted

Video: Snow Pitch Tournament a home run

Teams competed for softball supremacy on the snow-covered Finlayson Park ball diamonds

Update: Proposed medical building in Sicamous to be called Shuswap Healing Centre

The District of Sicamous is applying for $6 million in grant funding to go towards the project

Vehicle leaves road at Balmoral intersection near Blind Bay

A tow truck arrived to remove the vehicle at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Okanagan Military Tattoo returns

Performances July 28 and July 28

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Fairly clear skies are forecasted over the Shuswap as a rare celestial event plays out above

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

UBC Okanagan hosts gala evening of fun, art and entertainment

The annual event is celebrating its 17th anniversary

Most Read