CN has rejected the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference's (TCRC) proposal to extend a mediation period for contract negotiations, and a strike or lockout could occur on Oct. 28, TCRC officials said in a prepared statement. The union represents 3,300 conductors, trainmen, yardmen and traffic coordinators at CN.
A previous collective agreement expired July 22 and the parties have been trying to negotiate a new one. A conciliation period ended on Oct. 7.
Concessions proposed by CN would mean workers would be required to work longer hours with less rest time in between trips, "which flies in the face of scientific research on fatigue management," TCRC officials said, adding that wages and the retirement plan aren't the central bargaining issues.
"We're extremely disappointed by CN's refusal [to extend the mediation period]," said TCRC spokesperson Roland Hackl.
CN and TCRC officials are scheduled to resume collective bargaining on Oct. 21 with the assistance of federally appointed mediators, who acted as conciliators during the process that ended Oct. 7, said CN spokesman Mark Hallman in an email. Although the earliest date for a strike or lockout is shortly after midnight on Oct. 29, CN remains optimistic that it can negotiate an amicable settlement with the TCRC to avoid a labor disruption in Canada, he said.
"As matter of policy, CN does not comment on the substance of ongoing labor negotiations. However, CN stresses that none of its bargaining proposals would in any way compromise the health and safety of TCRC members," said Hallman. "Indeed, it is our opinion that CN's proposals would positively affect the health and safety of our employees."
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