With Feb. 23 lockout deadline looming, CN advises customers it may have to deploy labour contingency plan
If Unifor agrees to let specially-trained employees work during a dispute, CN will protect electric-powered Montreal commuter trains
MONTREAL, Feb. 22, 2015 /CNW/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) met the leadership of Unifor for several hours in Ottawa today with officials of the government's Federal Conciliation and Mediation Service but was unable to negotiate all terms of a new contract. However, the two parties will meet again first thing tomorrow morning in Ottawa to resume collective bargaining.
In the circumstances, CN reiterates that binding arbitration may ultimately be the best way to avoid a lockout of the union's 4,800 members at 2300 hours local time on Feb. 23.
Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive, said: "CN met the leadership of Unifor in Ottawa today for several hours in the presence of top federal government conciliators but unfortunately was unable to fully reach common ground with the union on a negotiated settlement. The parties will resume talks tomorrow morning in Ottawa. We reiterate that binding arbitration may be the best way to prevent a labour dispute with Unifor members tomorrow evening. Arbitration is the proper, impartial forum to decide in fairness what terms are most in line with the interest of CN employees represented by Unifor.
"CN has amicably negotiated three collective agreements recently with the Teamsters union, and reached an early contract renewal with the United Steelworkers prior to its agreement expiring at the end of December. These settlements clearly show that CN can find common ground to benefit its employees."
In the absence of a negotiated settlement or agreement on binding arbitration by tomorrow evening, CN will deploy its labour contingency plan, with trained management personnel safely performing the work of Unifor members, to protect service to the best of its ability. CN has begun to advise its customers in Canada of that possibility.
CN also said it is prepared to supervise specially-trained employees represented by Unifor who maintain electric-powered Montreal commuter trains if the union agrees to allow them to work during any dispute. That would ensure no disruption of those commuter train operations.
Mongeau said: "We are again urging Unifor to see that binding arbitration is the most sensible way to settle our differences. A work stoppage is in no one's interest. Our employees deserve to stay on their jobs, CN's customers need to be served, and Canada's reputation as a trading nation should not be put at risk by a labour dispute that can be avoided."
Unifor represents approximately 4,800 CN employees in mechanical, intermodal, clerical and other areas of the company's business in Canada.
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