TORONTO Feb 3 Canadian National Railway Co
said it will meet on Monday afternoon with officials
from the union representing 3,000 train conductors, yard
workers, and traffic coordinators to discuss solutions after
members rejected a tentative labor deal.
Union members have "a lot of mistrust" with Canada's largest
railway, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference General Chairman
Roland Hackl told Reuters, and will need assurances that CN will
respect rest provisions for workers in the current agreement.
"It has been an ongoing problem," Hackl said, of members
working 12 hours shifts despite asking to be relieved after 10
"There's logistical issues in relieving a crew, so we
understand when it happens occasionally, but ... it has grossly
escalated since the memorandum was reached."
CN, which negotiated a new three-year agreement with the
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference - Conductors, Trainpersons and
Yardpersons (TCRC-CTY) in October, said extreme winter weather
conditions since last December have hampered normal operations
and slowed trains.
"CN complies with the statutory rest provisions for its
conductors in accordance with federal government regulations.
Whenever the TCRC-CTY has brought perceived contractual rest
provision problems to the attention of management, CN has taken
immediate steps to address them," said CN spokesman Mark
The company and union will "start to review the ratification
results and to discuss solutions on how we can move forward."
Hackl said that some 60 percent of workers who voted had
rejected the deal. He expects outstanding issues will be
resolved but could not predict the timing.
"It's not that we're at odds over contract demands or the
wage issue or a pension issue - it's the dissatisfaction of the
membership from the failure of the company to abide by the
Talks last year stalled over issues including longer work
hours and less rest time between trips.
Canada's government has been quick to intervene in labor
issues in the recent years, sending unionized staff at railways
and airlines back to work to avoid major disruptions.
The labor issue comes as rail safety is under intense
scrutiny, following a string of high-profile North American
derailments involving oil. Regulators are under pressure to
toughen industry standards, particularly after a runaway train
that was carrying crude exploded and killed 47 people in Lac
Megantic, Quebec last summer.