Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Canadian Pacific hit by strike

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Canadian Pacific began Wednesday suffering a strike delivered by Teamsters Canada.

Teamsters Canada, representing about 5,000 CP employees, said labor and management were unable to reach consensus despite talks that continued late Tuesday.

"Negotiations adjourned for the evening just before midnight Tuesday night," CP spokesman Ed Greenberg told Railway Age early Wednesday morning. "CP and the [union] will continue to meet with the assistance of the federal conciliation and mediation service on Wednesday, May 23, 2012.

"As reported, the union has withdrawn its services and as a result, CP has successfully executed the safe and structured shutdown of its freight train operations in Canada," Greenberg said. "In addition to customer and supply chain impacts, the suspension of CP's freight service will also impact many of the connecting railways with whom we do business."

As a gesture of goodwill by CP and to help aid ongoing negotiations, "commuter service continues to operate without disruption in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal"—Canada's three largest cities—Greenberg said. Union representatives also pledged to maintain regional passenger services.

GO Transit's website early Wednesday morning (at roughly 6:00 a.m and again at 8:30 a.m., Eastern Time) affirmed that its passenger services appeared to be running normally on its Milton Line, which traverses CP right-of-way west of Toronto.

But two VIA Rail Canada routes in Ontario that use CP infrastructure were likely to be affected: between Sudbury and White River, and the Brockville-to-Ottawa segment of the Toronto-Ottawa route.

Other routes could have been affected had the two sides not reached a deal, said VIA Rail spokesman Malcolm Andrews late Tuesday. "We would have had some runs to Kitchener, London, Sarnia that would have been affected, but because of what they were able to do, those lines now are not affected."

Teamsters Canada Vice-President Douglas Finnson said negotiations are focused on pensions, fatigue management, and work-rule issues.

The strike began affecting some U.S. operations Wednesday, as Union Pacific, BNSF, and Montana Rail LInk began parking trains bound for Canada at various locations in the western U.S. 

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