Locomotives sit idle in the railyard as Canadian National Railway workers begin a nationwide strike Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 in Montreal. The union representing the roughly 3,200 CN Railway Co. workers said Tuesday it has reached a tentative deal with the company to end the week-long strike. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

CN Rail and union reach tentative deal, work set to resume Wednesday

The union representing striking Canadian railway workers says it has reached a tentative deal with CN Rail to end a week-long strike that had paralized rail traffic in large parts of the country, leading to concerns about shortages of some key commodities.

“I am pleased to announce that we’ve reached a tentative agreement with CN. I would like to thank our members for their incredible courage and solidarity,” said François Laporte, president of Teamsters Canada, in the written statement.

“I would also like to thank all the Teamster local unions from across different industries, all the labour organizations and members of the public who supported us on the picket line.”

The tentative agreement must now be ratified by Teamster members via secret-ballot electronic voting, Laporte said. Before the voting period opens, union meetings will be held across the country to explain the terms of the agreement to members, he added. The process usually takes several months.

However, CN’s normal operations will resume tomorrow at 6 a.m. local time across Canada, a statement from Teamsters Canada said.

Farmers park their tractors in protest outside of the Canadian National Railway headquarters in Montreal on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A statement from CN Rail said staff will return to work at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“We want to thank our customers for their patience and support and assure them that CN is preparing to resume full rail operations as soon as possible,” JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer of CN, said in a written statement. “I would also like to personally thank our employees who kept the railroad moving safely at a reduced capacity.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was facing calls to intervene to end the strike.

The union leadership thanked Trudeau “for respecting workers’ right to strike.”

The statement by the Teamsters also thanked Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), saying they were instrumental in helping parties find common ground.

“Previous governments routinely violated workers’ right to strike when it came to the rail industry,” said Laporte. “This government remained calm and focused on helping parties reach an agreement, and it worked.”

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