October 29, 2013 / 9:25 PM / 4 years ago

CN Rail talks with union stretch on, still optimistic for deal

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co said on Tuesday it still hopes to negotiate a new deal with the Teamsters union and avoid a labor disruption, after talks assisted by government-appointed mediators stretched into the early morning.

A view of the Canadian Nationals (CN) Thornton Railroad Yards in Surrey, British Columbia, June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark

Canada’s largest railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union, which represents some 3,300 conductors and other workers, are now in a legal position for a strike or lockout after providing 72 hours notice. Neither side has yet served notice.

A strike or lockout would disrupt movement of autos, grain, coal, crude oil and a variety of other goods across Canada.

“CN and the (union) are continuing labor negotiations today with the on-going assistance of mediators appointed by the federal minister of labor,” said CN spokesman Mark Hallman.

“CN remains optimistic that it can negotiate a settlement with the (union) to avoid labor disruption in Canada.”

Talks continued until 3 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Teamsters spokesman and bargaining team member Roland Hackl told Reuters. After a short break, talks resumed later on Tuesday morning, he said.

The union has said work rule issues are a sticking point, with CN demanding concessions that would force members to work longer hours with less rest time between trips, for example. CN says none of its proposals would compromise worker health or safety.

The Canadian government has been quick to intervene in other recent labor disputes. Last May, it used legislation to force 4,800 striking locomotive engineers and conductors back to work at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, the country’s No. 2 rail operator.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch is monitoring the situation and has encouraged both sides to come to an agreement, a spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Susan Taylor, with additional reporting by Louise Egan in Ottawa; Editing by Ken Wills

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