A Canadian Pacific Railway employee walks along the side of a locomotive in a marshalling yard in Calgary, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. The countdown to another Canadian railway strike is on.Canadian Pacific Railway worker are set to strike Tuesday night, potentially forcing the railroad to shut down its freight service and leaving commuters with the prospect of delays in the country’s three largest cities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CP Rail train operators on strike, signal workers reach agreement

MONTREAL — Canadian Pacific Rail’s more than 3,000 train operators walked off the job late Tuesday night while a second group of workers reached a tentative contract settlement with the railcompany.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said its workers walked out at 10 p.m. EDT as negotiations continued with the company with the assistance of federal mediators.

That announcement came just minutes after CP Rail announced a tentative deal had been reached with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for 360 signalling workers who were also poised to walk off the job at 10 p.m..

The Teamsters said the strike by its members began despite “best efforts to reach a negotiated settlement,” adding it is “willing to remain at the bargaining table during the strike.”

It also said commuter train services in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are operated by Bombardier, not Canadian Pacific, and Teamster members who operate trains in those cities are Bombardier employees and will not go on strike.

As a result, said the Teamsters, commuter train services would not be affected by the strike.

Via, however, had already cancelled passenger rail service starting Tuesday morning in Ontario between Sudbury and White River.

CP Rail has said it will use qualified management staff to handle signalling and switching tasks so trains can continue to operate.

However, the strike could force the railroad to shut down its freight service at a particularly bad time for grain farmers. Shippers had said they expected talks would fail, resulting in the third CPRail strike since 2012.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier in the day that the federal government would not be rushed into introducing back-to-work legislation, preferring instead to employ various levers to motivate both sides to reach a settlement.

Trudeau also said his government would not do as the Conservatives did and favour employers.

“Quite frankly, we have companies that have gotten used to the fact that in certain industries, the government in the past was very quick to legislate against unions,” Trudeau said during a conference in Toronto.

“We are not going to do that.”

If eventually forced to intervene, said Trudeau, the Liberal government won’t be giving the advantage to employers.

Even before the strike began, the livelihoods of Canadian grain farmers were already threatened because shipping was severely disrupted over the past winter due to extreme cold.

“You always hope for a miracle but we’re pretty sure there’s going to be a stoppage,” said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, which represents the country’s largest exporters.

He said there was little that could be done to prepare other than to notify farmers that deliveries will have to be rescheduled and tell overseas customers they could receive late shipments.

“We’re just coming off of a year where we had poor rail service even though we didn’t have a work stoppage and we are trying to maintain relationships with our customers,” he added.

The train operators voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action to back their contract demands in early April and voted 98 per cent to reject CP’s final offer last Friday.

Both unions gave the railway notice over the weekend that they plan to walk off the job to support contract demands.

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Leon Draisaitl has overtime winner as Edmonton Oilers down Boston Bruins 3-2

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for the overtime winner… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Most Read