VIA Rail, Union Reach Tentative Deal

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Unifor VIA Rail Master Bargaining Committees (CNW Group/Unifor)

Unifor VIA Rail Master Bargaining Committees (CNW Group/Unifor)

A strike threatening to suspend passenger rail services across Canada has been averted after Via Rail reached tentative agreements with Unifor hours before the July 11 deadline.

The tentative deal follows a strike mandate issued by Unifor, which represents 2,400 Via Rail employees, on July 7 and a 72-hour strike notice to the national car carrier issued on July 8 to “give the public ample notice and an opportunity to make alternative arrangements for travel” if a new contract could not be negotiated by 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 11. Both Unifor and Via Rail confirm that service will operate normally, pending ratification of the agreement.

These tentative agreements, VIA Rail says, are subject to a ratification vote by VIA Rail’s Unifor Council 4000 and Local 100 members. Once ratified, the collective agreements will be retroactive to January 1, 2022, and in effect through December 31, 2024. Details of the agreements will be released following ratification by members.

“From the beginning, our bargaining committees felt the weight of their responsibility–to fight for the best deal for their members,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer. “They have done incredible work. They were tough and principled, and they have proven that when we fight, we can win for working people.”

“VIA Rail is pleased to have negotiated these agreements and recognizes the hard work of both parties during this process,” said VIA Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Martin R. Landry, in a statement. “We sympathize with the passengers and communities whose plans have been impacted in the past couple of days due to the uncertainty caused by this potential strike. As we look forward to ratification, these tentative agreements allow our teams to get back to doing what we do best: serving Canadians throughout the country.”

VIA Rail says it “regrets any uncertainties that the strike notice issued by the union may have caused,” adding that it wants to “reassure passengers that operations will run as scheduled as the company awaits ratification.

Via Rail also said it will continue to offer customers the opportunity to make changes to their travel plans without service fees for any departures prior to July 31, 2022.

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