UPDATE 1-Canada readies back-to-work legislation as CP rail workers strike

Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:43pm EST
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(Adds grain shipper, trader comments)

By Amran Abocar

TORONTO Feb 15 (Reuters) - Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd prepared to operate a reduced freight schedule run by its managers on Sunday, after talks on a new contract broke down and more than 3,000 train engineers and conductors walked off the job.

Canada's second-largest railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference could not agree on scheduling and rest time before a midnight deadline passed. The railway reached a deal with a second union, Unifor, which represents safety and maintenance workers.

The strike will affect automakers, crude-by-rail and grain shipments and the Port of Metro Vancouver. Commuters in Montreal will also feel the effects, since CP operates some commuter trains in Canada's second largest city. CP workers in the U.S., where the railway has a substantial network, are not on strike.

Canada's Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, who intervened in the talks on Friday to try to stave off the strike, said she was "incredibly disappointed" that the union failed to reach an agreement with the Calgary-based company, adding "the union continually stifled progress."

"Our government will review all available options to end any work-stoppage expediently, up to and including the introduction of legislation in Parliament," Leitch said in a statement.

The Canadian government began laying the groundwork to introduce back-to-work legislation last week, putting it on Parliament's notice paper for Monday, which means it could pass into law soon after the strike.

In recent years, the government has intervened or threatened to intervene in several major labor disputes involving transportation.   Continued...