CN Rail and union reach tentative agreement, ending strike
Canadian National Railway Co. and the Teamsters union both announced Tuesday they have reached a tentative agreement that ends a weeklong strike by more than 3,000 of the railway’s workers.
Normal rail operations will resume nationwide at 6 a.m. local time on Wednesday, according to a release from the Teamsters. The deal must still be ratified by union members, Teamsters said.
Jean-Jacques Ruest, president and chief executive officer of CN, said in a statement that the railway is preparing to resume full rail operations as soon as possible.
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“I would also like to personally thank our employees who kept the railroad moving safely at a reduced capacity,” Ruest said in a statement. “CN and its people are committed to moving the North American economy by providing freight service that enables economic growth.”
Seperately, Teamsters Canada thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his labour and transport ministers in its release for not legislating the workers back to work before a deal could be reached.
“Previous governments routinely violated workers’ right to strike when it came to the rail industry. This government remained calm and focused on helping parties reach an agreement, and it worked,” Teamsters president François Laporte said in a statement.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney expressed his relief on Twitter shortly after news of the deal broke, calling the agreement “encouraging.”
Kenney had previously called for the Trudeau government to reconvene and legislate an end to the strike on Monday, saying in a statement that "every day the CN rail strike continues, (it) hurts Albertans and kills jobs and profits of businesses across Canada.”
The federal labour and transport ministers praised the persistence by CN, Teamsters and mediators to get the deal done, in a statement on Tuesday.
“These agreements are further evidence that when employers and organized labour work together, we get the best results for Canadians and for our economy,” Labour Minister Filomena Tassi and Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a joint statement.
“We congratulate and thank both CN and the Teamsters for staying at the table and coming to an agreement for the benefit of all Canadians. We would also like to recognize the important work of the mediators from our Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.”
However, the deal did not come soon enough to prevent a temporary shutdown at one of the nation’s largest potash mines.
Nutrien Inc. - which announced Monday that it would be shuttering its Rocanville, Sask. facility for two weeks starting on Dec. 2 – said Tuesday that the temporary closure will go ahead as planned.
“Despite our best efforts to manage through the disruption, the strike created significant backlog in our supply chain and resulted in lost export capacity that cannot be immediately recovered,” a Nutrien spokesperson told BNN Bloomberg via email on Tuesday.
Though the spokesperson called the end of the strike “great news for farmers,” he reiterated that Rocanville will still close for two weeks “to get inventories balanced” as a result of “altered shipping patterns.”
The shutdown impacts approximately 600 Nutrien employees, with 550 expected to be laid off during the closure, according to the company.