Montreal—Negotiations between CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) ended on Friday with no agreement on a new labour contract.
CN and the TCRC had resumed negotiations earlier in the day with the assistance of federal mediators. But the railway now expects a strike at its Canadian operations.
The company offered to submit the contract disagreements to binding arbitration in order to avoid a labour disruption, but the union refused, according to CN.
It’s implementing a labour contingency plan that will see qualified management personnel work as locomotive engineers.
Separate collective agreements mean locomotive engineers will stay on the job in northern Alberta, parts of northern and eastern Ontario, northern Quebec and parts of eastern Quebec and New Brunswick.
The TCRC reported the stalemate was caused by a 1.5 percent wage increase, coupled with a requirement to have locomotive engineers work an additional 500 miles per month over the amount required by the current collective agreement.
The change would require some of the engineers to work seven days a week with no time off, and cause layoffs within the ranks of conductors, trainmen and yardmen.
"As advised by the company, these changes are the tip of the iceberg and we cannot sit idly by while CN simply changes the terms and conditions of the collective agreement,” said Daniel Shewchuk, president of the TCRC. “Our members deserve much better than that.”
The parties have been assisted by federal mediators since August in the hope of renewing their agreement, which expired on December 31, 2008.
The TCRC is also in the process of filing a complaint of bargaining in bad faith against CN as the situation continues to deteriorate.