Arbitrator to decide wage, benefit issues

MONTREAL — Unresolved wage and benefits issues affecting 1,700 Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) train engineers will be submitted to binding arbitration.

MONTREAL — Unresolved wage and benefits issues affecting 1,700 Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) train engineers will be submitted to binding arbitration.

The decision was made after renewed talks between the company and the Teamsters Canada union ended Saturday.

A strike by the engineers was settled Dec. 2 after the railway agreed to roll back an imposed wage and monthly mileage cap increases. The agreement was reached just ahead of federal legislation that would have forced the engineers back to work.

Both sides agreed, as part of the settlement, to send the wage and benefit issues to third-party arbitration if further talks failed to resolve them.

CN spokesman Mark Hallman declined to provide details on why the talks had been extended or sticking points that couldn’t be resolved.

“This was the process that had been agreed to as part of that memorandum of settlement of Dec. 2 and this is the next step,” he said.

The union couldn’t be reached for comment.

Arbitration won’t include work rule changes, since agreement was required by both sides to send respective demands for resolution.

The engineers went on strike after the railway unilaterally tried to impose a contract that included a 1.5 per cent wage increase and increased monthly mileage caps to 6,900 kilometres from 6,100 kilometres.

The union had also proposed undisclosed work rule changes of its own.

The strike followed 14 months of negotiations. The engineers’ last contract expired Dec. 31 2008.

The labour dispute does not involve CN employees in the United States, northern Alberta and northern Quebec.

Labour Minister Rona Ambrose will now appoint an arbitrator, who will have 90 days to hand in a final decision on a new agreement.

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