Talks between union and CN Rail break down, strike looms
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO (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 October 28 at the country's largest railroad operator, the union said on Monday.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), 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 October 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.
The union said the company's demands fly in the face of its statements about safety being a priority.
A CN spokesman said the company does not comment on the substance of ongoing labor negotiations, but stressed that CN's bargaining proposals would not in any way compromise the health and safety of TCRC members.
CN remains optimistic it can negotiate an amicable settlement with the TCRC to avoid labor disruption in Canada, the spokesman, Mark Hallman, said in an email.
Hallman also noted that the company has comprehensive safety programs in place designed to prevent accidents. Continued...