CN Rail, union reach tentative deal to end strike

Wed Dec 2, 2009 6:32pm EST
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By Allan Dowd and Randall Palmer

VANCOUVER/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement with striking locomotive engineers to end their walkout, as the government prepared to step in with back-to-work legislation.

Canada's largest railway said the two sides had agreed to return to the bargaining table and continue negotiations on wages, benefits and other work rules. No timetable for a final contract deal was announced.

"CN is pleased that an agreement has been reached to end the strike by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference immediately," CN President and Chief Executive Hunter Harrison said.

The strike started early on Saturday in response to CN unilaterally imposing a 1.5 percent wage increase and raising the engineers' monthly mileage cap to 4,300 miles from 3,800 after 14 months of negotiation failed to produce a new contract.

The engineers' last contract expired on December 31, 2008.

As part of the deal, the company agreed to roll back both the imposed monthly mileage cap and the wage increase.

If the two sides can't reach an agreement, the wage and benefit offers will be sent to final, binding arbitration. Work-rule issues can also go to binding arbitration, but only if both sides agree, the company said.

Union officials were not immediately available for comment.   Continued...

<p>Rail cars sit in the CN MacMillan Yard in Toronto February 10, 2007. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski</p>