Negotiations between officials at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the railway’s 3,000 maintenance workers, remain at a standstill with no new discussions planned at this time, union and company representatives said Friday.
Talks between the two sides broke off April 28 after 11 straight days of discussions.
“CP is ready to return to the table and would prefer to reach a negotiated settlement, but at this time no new talks have been scheduled,” Breanne Feigel, a CP spokeswoman.
Feigel also noted that should the union serve its 72 hour strike notice, company management will perform the workers’ day-to-day tasks.
Of the 3,000 workers who belong to the union, only about 1,200 of them are involved in the day to day maintenance of the tracks, Feigel said, noting that these employees don’t operate the actual trains.
Bill Brehl, president of the local union, said no new negotiations have been formally planned, but there were hopes that, with the help of the federally appointed mediator, the sides could get the process back underway early next week.
“We are waiting to hear from the mediator and what his suggestions might be in order to get the discussions back on track,” Brehl said. “We do want to negotiate a settlement but it’s just a matter of now getting the company back to the bargaining table.”
Wages, pension plans, job security, seniority, health and worker safety were only a few of the outstanding issues that still needed to be resolved, he said.
Brehl said the two sides had been getting close to an agreement on a number of these fronts before the negotiations broke off last Saturday.
CP Rail and union members are both in a strike/lockout position, provided a 72-hour notice of intent is filed.
Brehl said strike action was seen as being the very last step in the process and not necessarily the preferred option.
However, he also acknowledged that if the discussion process stays deadlocked for too long, it was likely that one of the two sides would eventually pull the pin on a lockout or a strike.
“There’s been reports circulating that CP was about to lock out the workers,” Brehl said.
The workers - who inspect, maintain and build tracks, among other tasks - could have gone on strike as early as April 23, after the government-mandated cooling-off period ended April 22.
The previous three year contract between the two sides ran out at the end of December in 2006. (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)