Back-to-work legislation enacted, CP workers return to job

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The Restoring Rail Service Act passed in the Canadian Senate and received the Royal Assent, effectively ending the strike at Canadian Pacific, which began on May 23. CP workers represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference will return to work on Friday, June 1.

“With no prospect of resolution in sight, the government acted to ensure continued rail services for businesses, families and the economy,” said Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Labour Minister. “The work stoppage at the Canadian Pacific Railway is affecting industries that contribute $540 million weekly to the Canadian economy through their use of the railway. The strike will also put the jobs of thousands of Canadians at risk if it is prolonged.”

The legislation will resume rail services at the Canadian Pacific Railway and send all unresolved issues to an interest-based binding arbitration process. Minister Raitt will appoint a mediator, who will have 90 days to settle the dispute.

Bill C-39 passed Canada’s House of Commons on May 30, followed by the Senate on May 31 and received the Royal Assent. In Canada, Royal Assent is the final, and largely symbolic, stage of the legislative process in order for a bill to become law.

In reaction to the legislation, the TCRC released a statement that read in part, “the officers of TCRC disagree with the back-to-work legislation forcing some 4,800 Canadian Pacific workers to report for work tomorrow. Still, the union is advising members to obey the law.”

TCRC said pension cuts, work rules and fatigue management are key issues to the dispute. TCRC independently represents bargaining units of approximately 220 rail traffic controllers and 4,200 locomotive engineers, conductors, trainspersons and yardmen. The collective agreements for both units expired on December 31, 2011.

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