CN Rail, union seek arbitration after talks fail

Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:55pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co and the union representing 1,700 locomotive engineers will submit unresolved wage and benefits issues to binding arbitration after talks failed to yield a deal, the company said on Sunday.

Canada's largest railway resumed labor talks with the Teamsters union on December 3 after a brief strike. The company and union had agreed to put outstanding issues to binding arbitration if no agreement was reached.

CN said talks ended on Saturday without a settlement.

"The federal minister of labor will now appoint an arbitrator, who will have 90 days following his or her appointment to report to the minister with a final decision on a new collective agreement," the company said in a statement.

"Nothing precludes CN or the (union) from agreeing to further negotiations once the arbitration process starts."

The railway said no further strike action is permitted under the dispute resolution mechanism, nor can CN lock out the union.

Engineers went on strike after CN unilaterally imposed a 1.5 percent wage increase and raised their monthly mileage cap to 4,300 miles from 3,800 after 14 months of negotiation failed to produce a new contract.

Under a deal to end the strike, CN agreed to roll back the imposed monthly mileage cap and wage increase.

The engineers' last contract expired December 31 2008. The dispute does not affect CN engineers in the United States, northern Alberta and northern Quebec.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Diane Craft)

<p>A Via Rail train waits to leave the station at Union Station in Toronto July 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>