Locked out employees returned to work Tuesday
By Diego Flammini
About 3,000 Canadian Pacific (CP) employees will return to work at noon local time Tuesday after the railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) agreed to final and binding arbitration.
Under binding arbitration, an arbitrator will produce a final agreement both parties will be forced to accept.
The TCRC would have preferred the two sides reach a new deal without an arbitrator.
“The decision to agree to final and binding arbitration is not taken lightly,” Dave Fulton, a TCRC spokesperson, said in a statement. “While arbitration is not the preferred method, we were able to negotiate terms and conditions that were in the best interest of our members.”
Wages and pensions remain stumbling blocks, the statement added.
With the arbitration process underway, CP is preparing to “resume (its) essential services for our customers and the North American supply chain,” CP President and CEO Keith Creel said in a statement.
Federal ministers are pleased to see the work stoppage come to an end.
“This outcome is further evidence that when employers and unions work together, we get the best results for Canadians and for our economy,” Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement.
In addition, the ministers of transport (Omar Alghabra), agriculture (Marie-Claude Bibeau), natural resources (Jonathan Wilkinson) “would like to congratulate and thank both Canadian Pacific Railway and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference for staying at the table and putting in the necessary work to come to a resolution,” O’Regan’s statement added.
Members of the ag industry are pleased the lockout ended soon after it began.
But measures need to be in place to prevent these situations from occurring regularly, said Karen Proud, president and CEO of Fertilizer Canada.
“This latest development is obviously good news, but we’re disappointed we even had to have a work stoppage because even one day of a work stoppage means weeks of backlog,” she told Farms.com. “We’re now looking to the government for a longer-term solution, so we don’t have to go through this every few years.”
In May 2021, employees at the Port of Montreal went on strike.
And in November 2019, about 3,000 Canadian National Railway employees took strike action.
Canada’s supply chain is too fragile for this kind of uncertainty, Proud said.
“We only have two railways in Canada,” she said. “When one stops, it has a massive impact on any sector that depends on the rails to run, or ships to deliver goods. We have a supply chain problem in Canada, and we need the federal government to step in to help provide stability for the supply chain.”
CP and TCRC using binding arbitration to settle their dispute is the second use of binding arbitration in Canada in less than a month.
The Acadia University Faculty Association, which represents professors, instructors and other Acadia University staff, and the university, agreed to use binding arbitration in early March after a work stoppage that had been ongoing since Feb. 1.