Talks between union and CN Rail break down, strike looms

Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:42am EDT
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO Oct 14 (Reuters) - Talks between the railroad workers' union and Canadian National Railway Co have broken down, raising the possibility of a strike or a lockout by Oct. 28 at the country's largest railroad operator, the union said on Monday.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents some 3,300 conductors, trainmen, yardmen and traffic coordinators, said the company rejected the union's offer to extend conciliation talks that ended on Oct. 7.

"We're extremely disappointed by CN's refusal to extend the mediation period," Roland Hackl, a spokesman for the union, said in a statement.

The union said the talks have stalled over CN's demands for concessions that would force workers to work longer hours with less rest time between trips. Wages and the retirement plan are not central issues in this bargaining round, the union said.

A spokesman for CN was not immediately reachable for comment.

The union said the company's demands fly in the face of its statements about safety being a priority.

Rail safety has become a hot-button issue in Canada this year after a disaster in July when a runaway tanker train derailed and exploded in the middle of the small town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, causing 47 deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

The accident prompted Canada to toughen its safety standards for railways earlier this year.   Continued...