Canada preparing legislation to force striking rail employees back to work: Labour minister

Talks break down between Canadian Pacific Rail, union over weekend
||Last Updated: 05/30/2012

The federal government has announced its intention to introduce back-to-work legislation to end the strike by 4,800 striking locomotive engineers at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CPR).

UPDATE: Canada's lower house passes CP Rail back-to-work bill

Talks between the rail company and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) — the union representing the workers — broke down on May 27, paving the way for the Harper government to force them back to work.

This action is being taken to protect the economy, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt told reporters on May 28.

"If this strike were to continue long term, it could cost the Canadian economy over half a billion dollars each week and put the jobs of thousands of Canadians at risk," Raitt said. "There is a point in time when a person's right to strike is measured and balanced against the national economy and the best interests of the Canadian public."

A prolonged strike would cost Canadians $540 million a week, Raitt specified later.

Members of the TCRC walked off the job on May 23 after talks over pension issues broke down, shutting down freight traffic across the country.

CPR is Canada's second largest railroad. Its routes are mostly in western Canada and in the United States, although the U.S. operations are not affected by the strike.

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