CP trains to start rolling Friday after government ends strike

Thu May 31, 2012 6:46pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and Susan Taylor

OTTAWA/TORONTO (Reuters) - Trains will start rolling again on Friday at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd after the Canadian Senate passed back-to-work legislation on Thursday evening, and the railroad expects operations to be back to normal within 48 hours.

"There will be a period to catch up on backlog and that is something we'll be doing once we're operating again. We'll be doing that as quickly as possible," CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said.

The Teamsters union launched their strike on May 23, shutting down freight along CP lines and forcing some customers to reduce operations. The government, concerned about the impact on the Canadian economy, pushed through back-to-work legislation on Monday to end the work stoppage.

The striking workers have been without a contract since December 31. The main disagreement is over CP demands to cut pension funding by 40 percent.

CP, whose operating efficiency is the worst in its industry, has said pension costs helped push its expense margins above those of its rivals and made it more difficult to compete with its larger rival, Canadian National Railway Co.

CP said it laid off more than 2,000 non-striking staff in addition to the 4,800 striking workers. It had said another 1,400 faced layoffs if the strike was prolonged.

Defending the government's intervention in the strike, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said a long CP rail stoppage would cost the economy C$80 million ($78 million) a day.

"With no prospect of resolution in sight, the Government acted to ensure continued rail services for businesses, families and the economy," she said.   Continued...

Picketers stand at the entrance to the CP Rail yards in Coquitlam, British Columbia May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark