MONTREAL/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Operations resumed at Canada’s largest railway, Canadian National Railway Co., on Wednesday, a day after company and union officials reached a tentative deal to end an eight-day-long strike that had triggered a severe propane shortage and left many Canadian exports stranded.
A CN spokesman said on Wednesday that there were no hiccups in the return to work and that trains were resuming operations as expected. The company had said Tuesday operations would resume across Canada at 6 a.m. local time on Wednesday.
The some 3,200 striking conductors and yard workers had been demanding improved working conditions, including rest breaks.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that union’s release of recorded pleas of an exhausted rail worker wanting a break after a 10-hour shift helped deliver a critical breakthrough in securing the preliminary agreement.
That deal help the end of the country’s biggest railway strike in a decade.
The CN spokesman would not comment on Wednesday about the duration of any backlog or the recovery process. Shippers had warned on Tuesday it could take weeks before service normalized.
Canada relies on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway Co. to move crops, oil, potash, coal and manufactured goods to ports and the United States. About half of Canada’s exports move by rail, according to industry data.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday the government would be monitoring CN’s return to operations, saying it would take a few days for the railway to ramp its operations back up. CN, he said, would “get going as quickly as possible.”
“CN is a very experienced large company and, yes, they’re very aware of all the goods that we need to be moving,” Garneau said.
CN shares rose 0.4% in early Wednesday trade, adding to Tuesday’s 1.3% gains. The benchmark Canadian share index was steady on Wednesday.
Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa, Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky