Harper government ready to order end to strike by CP Rail workers

OTTAWA – The Harper government is expected to introduce back-to-work legislation today to end the strike by 4,800 Canadian Pacific Railway workers.

Mediated contract talks between the railway and the Teamsters union representing locomotive engineers and conductors collapsed Sunday. And Labour Minister Lisa Raitt made it clear earlier in the day that she wouldn’t wait much longer for a negotiated settlement.

Raitt gave notice of intention to intervene shortly after Wednesday morning’s walkout halted the CP’s freight service across Canada, meaning she can table the bill as early as today and the strikers can be ordered back to work later this week.

As she did with previous labour disputes at Air Canada and Canada Post, Raitt cited the damage to Canada’s economic recovery for quickly legislating an end to work stoppages.

The minister has estimated a prolonged strike by CP Rail works could cost the Canadian economy $540 million a week.

Pensions, as well as work rules and fatigue management have been major points of contention in the bargaining process.