Teamsters threaten Canadian National rail strike November 28

Time:2009-11-30 Browse:17 Author:RISINGSUN

CANADIAN National Railway (CN) has received notice of a train drivers strike for Saturday November 28 after management unilaterally made a work rule change after 14 months of fruitless bargaining with the Teamsters union.
CN urged the Teamsters to resume talks, or failing that, submit to binding arbitration before the strike date. Such an approach, said the railway, ended last July`s strike against CN`s passenger division, VIA Rail.
CN said it plans to continue services in the course of any work stoppage strike using non-union personnel.
The union said it had no choice but to issue a strike notice after CN said it planned to increase the engineers` monthly mileage cap to from 3,800 miles to 4,300, the current level for train conductors.
"We cannot sit idly by while CN changes the terms and conditions of the collective agreement," Teamsters Canada Rail Conference president Daniel Shewchuk told Reuters. The agreement lapsed January 1, 2009.
Long distance train drivers wages are tied to distance travelled with a 3,800 mile cap per month. It takes four days to cross Canada`s 4,000 miles travelling around the clock.
Put in place in 1919, when steam locomotives with open air cabs covered far less distance than today`s diesels, the old mileage cap is outmoded, said CN, which demand more productivity. But the union says the change will bring layoffs and have some drivers working seven days a week.
"Mediators have requested the parties meet in Montreal at noon Friday," said CN spokesman Mark Hallman. For the union, Mr Shewchuk said he was "cautiously optimistic" about a positive outcome.