Red Deer rail workers are celebrating after the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference reached a tentative agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway to end a strike hours after it began.
Brandon Myre, chairman for TCRC Red Deer chapter engineers, said this could be a big step moving forward for the company.
“We’re pretty happy we were able to reach a tentative agreement,” said Myre. “The operation hasn’t been too terribly affected and we’ll be back to work at 6 o’clock tomorrow morning.”
Before the strike ended, Myre said the dispute was mostly about working conditions, which have deteriorated in recent years. The main issue is fatigue management, he added.
“We get a two-hour call to show up for work and we can be called at any time,” Myre said on the picket line. “We are really fighting hard for better scheduling of trains and letting us know when we can plan our rest so that we can better manage our fatigue.”
Myre, who joined CP in 2005, said relations between the company and its workers have been breaking down for years.
“In recent years, it’s gotten much worse. We had a better relationship with the company where we could deal with them and get better fatigue management with train line ops and lately it’s just gotten a lot worse.”
Cody Woodcock, chairman for TCRC Red Deer chapter conductors, trainmen and yard, said they were prepared to strike for weeks or months.
“It’s the third time we’ve been on strike in six years, but this is the first time we actually have a deal we’re agreeing to,” said Woodcock. “Every other deal has been forced upon us by an arbitrator. It’s a different feeling because everyone might have got what they wanted and the process worked.”
The federal government was integral in the strike ending as soon as it did, he said.
“We’re really thankful the government stood behind us and was protecting the workers this time. I think they played a big part in the company realizing we were legit and we’ll do whatever it takes to get a fair deal,” said Woodcock.
Red Deer Canadian Pacific Rail workers were on the picket line in Edgar Industrial Park Wednesday as part of a nation-wide strike.
On Tuesday night, 3,000 train operators, and members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), went on strike in Canada. In Red Deer, the union has about 80 engineers, conductors and trainmen.
As an indication of the friction with the company, there are 8,000 outstanding grievances from the union’s 3,000 members.
The parties also reached a deal for the Kootenay Valley Railway.
A tentative deal was reached earlier with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for 360 signalling workers who were also poised to walk off the job at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.