Published: Wed, November 27, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

CN, union reach tentative deal to end strike Wednesday morning

CN, union reach tentative deal to end strike Wednesday morning

Teamsters Canada says it has reached a tentative agreement with Canadian National Railway Co.to end the strike at yards across Canada, including in Kamloops.

The union thanked the prime minister for respecting the workers' right to strike and acknowledged the help of federal mediators and the ministers of labour and transportation in reaching the deal. "I would like to thank our members for their incredible courage and solidarity", Teamsters Canada's president Francois Laporte said in a statement. Workers, who'd been without a contract since July, were protesting over benefits and safety concerns.

The tentative agreement must now be ratified by Teamster members via secret-ballot electronic voting. "That's part of life", Garneau told reporters Tuesday. "I would also like to personally thank our employees who kept the railroad moving safely".

While the strike will hurt CN's results in the upcoming fourth quarter, RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin wrote in a note to clients Monday that it would not affect CN's stock over the long-term or its 2020 revenue ton miles (RTM) forecast. "Because as quickly as we would have made a decision to convene Parliament, with everything that needs to be done to arrive at royal assent for a piece of legislation, we still would not have an agreement today".

Canadian National could not be immediately reached for comment, while Labour Minister Filomena Tassi's office declined to comment. "It's the quickest, it's the swiftest and we've always said that the best agreements do come at the bargaining table and we are thankful to both sides for this tentative agreement".

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan called on the transport minister to ask CN for an immediate update on its winter shipping plans. He didn't say what those changes might entail.

"Previous governments routinely violated workers' right to strike when it came to the rail industry".

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"In terms of the backlog that was created with the supply chain due to the strike over the past week, it'll take some time to recover", Nutrien spokesman Jeff Holzman said.

Details of the agreement will not be revealed until members vote on the deal by secret ballot, but the union previously said the dispute was over long hours and fatigue that led to what it characterized as unsafe working conditions.

In 2012 federal legislation ended a nine-day strike at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

Industries that rely on rail service have urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to recall Parliament and pass legislation to end the strike.

"Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until the members have had a chance to review the document first", the union said. In the face of intense pressure from industry, farmers and provincial premiers, Trudeau's team insisted on letting negotiations run their course.

"The threat of strikes affecting grain movement is a recurring theme every few years and we need a long-term solution to ensure Canada can meet its export commitments", said David Bishop, chairperson of Alberta Barley.

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