Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Canada's lower house passes back-to-work legislation for CP workers
On the heels of last week's freight service shutdown by the Canadian Pacific Railway after over 4,800 employees went on strike, Canada's House of Commons reportedly passed back-to-work legislation this morning that could ultimately force the railroad's locomotive engineers, conductors and rail controllers back to work if the bill passes the Senate.
Canadian Pacific management and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference failed to resolve a contract dispute over pensions and non-union hires last week.
The most recent five-year collective agreement between the CP and its more than 4,800 conductors, engineers, rail traffic controllers and yard workers expired Dec. 31, 2011.
Canada's Federal Labor Minister Laura Raitt said at a news conference after the strike was announced was that the estimated impact to Canada's economy is approximately $540 million per week.
"The government is concerned about the national economic significance this will have and we are prepared to act in the interest of the national economy," she said.
The CP employee strike comes amid a prolonged proxy battle involving activist investor Bill Ackman over the leadership direction of Canada's second largest railway that resulted in chief executive Fred Green's recent resignation.
The major reported points of contention during management-labor negotiations have revolved around benefit pensions and lower cost contribution plans for non-union employees hired after July 1, 2010.
The back-to-work legislation is reportedly expected to pass Canada's Senate and force freight service to resume while the lingering negotiations would head to binding arbitration, according to the Canadian government.
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