Canadian union, railway reach last minute accord

March 26, 2005

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Canada National Railway (CN) have worked out a tentative agreement, avoiding a walkout scheduled for midnight on the 26th by 604 workers.

The previous contract expired 31 December 2003, and the union notified CN of their intent to strike 23 March. The IBEW members covered under the contract maintain the track signals, and radio and data networks which monitor the movement of trains.

Federal mediators helped facilitate the agreement, invited by both the union and company. Montreal-based CN announced the four-year deal via a Business-wire release, but withheld the terms of the agreement pending a ratification vote, but did say the agreement is retroactive to 1 January 2004.

CN resumed talks earlier in March with 1,750 engineers after the union and company agreed possible work stoppages would be after 12 May 2005. Track maintenance workers signed a 4-year contract deal with CN in February, as well as a tentative settlement with conductors, yard service employees and traffic co-ordinators. In 2004 a 28-day strike by 5,000 clerical and cargo terminal workers cost the company an estimate CA$24 million.