OTTAWA—A day-old strike at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) has screeched to an unexpected halt, with the company and its union agreeing to binding arbitration just hours before employees were to be legislated back to work.
Federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch was on the verge of introducing a bill to end the labour dispute when she suddenly emerged from the House of Commons on Feb. 16 to reveal the two sides had beaten her to it.
Leitch welcomed the sudden willingness by both sides to resume talks through a mediator—a development that had seemed impossible just hours earlier.
“I do believe there are still numerous issues on the table and I’m confident that the mediation and arbitration process will get them to the place where they need to be,” she said.
“Our intention is to get service back working at 100 per cent by (the morning of Feb. 17).”
Leitch said prior to the agreement that the strike could have cost the Canadian economy more than $200 million in lost gross domestic product (GDP) every week.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference union took to Twitter to announce the CP strike had ended.
“A mediator will be named,” said the tweet. “Details to come.”
Earlier, Teamsters union president Douglas Finnson had said he was disappointed by news of a back-to-work bill, calling it “premature and unnecessary.”
He said the crucial issues of driver fatigue and working conditions were best settled through negotiations.
Peter Edwards, vice-president of labour relations for CP, said he supported the government’s bill after negotiations failed.