REFILE-UPDATE 2-Canada readies back-to-work legislation as CP rail workers strike

Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:49pm EST
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By Amran Abocar and Nia Williams

TORONTO/CALGARY Feb 15 (Reuters) - Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd began operating 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 No. 2 railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference failed to agree on terms including on scheduling and rest time. 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 port operators as goods face delays. Commuters in Montreal will also feel the effects as CP operates some commuter trains in Canada's second largest city. CP workers in the United States, 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.

On her Twitter feed, Leitch said the strike would cost the Canadian economy about C$205 million a week, tweeting: "Our government will take swift action to protect our economy."

The Canadian government began laying the groundwork to introduce back-to-work legislation last week, putting it on Parliament's notice paper for Monday.   Continued...