OTTAWA — The federal government introduced legislation Monday to end the CN Rail (TSX-CNR) strike, which it called a threat to the economic recovery.
It’s expected the back-to-work bill will pass within days and send outstanding issues to arbitration.
Labour Minister Rona Ambrose said she would have preferred to see a negotiated end to the walkout which began early Saturday. But she said she had to act after weekend talks failed.
“This is more than a private dispute between CN Rail and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference,” she said.
“It has serious repercussions for the national economy at a time when Canada’s recovery from the global recession is still fragile.”
CN Rail and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference worked with federal mediators for months, but couldn’t find common ground for an agreement.
Since 1,700 locomotive engineers hit the picket lines, qualified engineers from management have been trying to keep the trains running
CN Rail, the country’s largest railway, is offering a 1.5 per cent wage increase and seeking to raise the maximum distance engineers can travel in one month by 800 km to 6,900 km.
The union argues the hike in the distance cap would require some staff to work seven days a week, and cause layoffs.
Ambrose urged all parties in the Commons to support the legislation.
In a statement Sunday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff urged the government to protect businesses and shippers who rely on the cross-country rail network.