Via Rail reaches tentative agreement with Unifor avoiding possible strike

GATINEAU, Que. – Via Rail has reached a tentative contract agreement with Unifor, avoiding a work stoppage that could have begun as early as Monday morning.

The union issued a statement saying the four-year accord was reached during negotiations in Gatineau, Que. about an hour before the midnight Sunday strike deadline.

The agreement covers Unifor National Council 4000 and Unifor Local 100 members, representing 1,968 VIA customer service, on-board service and maintenance staff.

Union members across the country will vote on the accord over the next three weeks, and the Unifor statement says no details of the tentative agreement will be released before then.

Contract talks began last October and were conducted with the assistance of mediators assigned by the federal government.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias flew to Gatineau Sunday to join the union’s bargaining team. He’s quoted in the statement as saying “Unifor is dedicated to protecting good jobs for our members, and that’s what this agreement accomplished,” adding “We’re pleased that terms were reached without service interruption or inconvenience to passengers and our members.”

Via president and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano also praised the agreement in a release Sunday night. “The positive outcome of these negotiations accurately reflects the focus of all employees of the corporation to provide superior service to our passengers,” he said.