Updated: Canadian Pacific Rail reaches agreement with Teamsters to end strike

Strike ended only hours after it began

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference says it has reached a tentative agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway to end a strike hours after it began.

The parties also reached a deal for the Kootenay Valley Railway.

Full operations at both railways are set to resume Thursday morning across Canada.

Red Deer Canadian Pacific Rail workers were on the picket line in Edgar Industrial Park on Wednesday as part of a nation-wide strike.

On Tuesday night, 3,000 train operators, and members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), went on strike in Canada. In Red Deer, the union has about 80 engineers, conductors and trainmen.

Engineer Brandon Myre said the dispute is mostly about working conditions, which have deteriorated in recent years.

“Our main issue right now is fatigue management. Our operation runs 24/7, 365,” said Myre local chairman of the TCRC’s Red Deer chapter.

“We get a two-hour call to show up for work and we can be called at any time,” said Myre, on the picket line outside Red Deer Yard on Wednesday morning.

“We are really fighting hard for better scheduling of trains and letting us know when we can plan our rest so that we can better manage our fatigue.”

Tired crews make it much harder to safely operate the trains, he said.

Myre said the issue is common.

“It’s Canada-wide and it’s also industry-wide,” he said.

“In recent years it’s gotten much worse.”

Myre, who joined CP in 2005, said relations between the company and its workers have been breaking down for years.

“In recent years, it’s gotten much worse. We had a better relationship with the company where we could deal with them and get better fatigue management with train line ops and lately it’s just gotten a lot worse.”

Cost-cutting is behind most of the problems, said Myre.

“They’re trying to get more hours out of less men. They’ve been cutting and safety really has been what is taking the hit most of all.

“As fatigue increases, safety decreases. It goes hand in hand.”

As an indication of the friction with the company, there are 8,000 oustanding grievances from the union’s 3,000 members.

A tentative deal was reached with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for 360 signalling workers who were also poised to walk off the job at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

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