A nine-day strike at Canada's second largest rail provider, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), which brought all freight operations to a standstill, was brought to an end last Friday following the passing of a government back-to-work bill late on Thursday. The strike, which included around 4,800 locomotive engineers, conductors and traffic controllers, began when talks with unions regarding CP's proposed 40% pension funding cuts broke down on 23rd May. Ottawa has now appointed an arbitrator who has 90 days to work with the company and the Teamsters Canada union to establish a compromise contract.
The strike, which has affected the movement of vehicles as well as a range of other goods including grain, fertilizer and coal. Canadian Pacific reported that it ships commodities worth $135m every day across 24,000km of North American track.
Carmakers affected by the strike, which include Chrysler, GM, Honda and Toyota, are assessing the impact of the strike but have said that there was no impact on production. A spokesperson for GM told Automotive Logistics News that the company's logistics team had worked hard wit all of its providers, including

alternate rail and trucks, during the disruption of CP services to maintain production and to minimise the impact to customers. 

"There was no impact on GM's vehicle assembly production," confirmed the spokesperson. "With the resumption of CP service, finished vehicle shipping at our Canadian assembly operations is already back to normal and all vehicles at loading origins or in transit on rail are moving again."  
A Canadian Pacific spokesman added that its network in the US was not affected by the strike action.
Operations are now reported to be back to full production though the company admitted it "will take a number of days to completely recover and restore balance to industry supply chains".
"CP is continuing to work closely with our customers to identify any remaining backlog and address them as quickly as possible," said the spokesman. "Key productivity measures are quickly approaching the record performance levels achieved before the Canadian network work stoppage," he added.
Regarding the pension funding discussions the spokesman said that the company was proceeding through arbitration and no further details would be released until the process was complete.
"We have a long history at CP of successful collective bargaining," said the company's executive vice president, Jane O'Hagan, in a statement. "Work stoppages are the exception not the norm. In fact, it has been 17 years and dozens of collective agreements since the Government has had to introduce legislation to end a work stoppage at CP. With this return to work, I am confident in stability and continuity in operations."
However, speaking for the Teamsters Canada union, Doug Finnson, vice president and chief negotiator Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), said the drastic cut in pensions had angered its members. "A pension plan is a deferred salary, not just money the company can distribute to its shareholders and managers without being accountable to anyone," he said.
Work rules and fatigue management are also key issues said the union in a statement. The Teamsters Union plans to systematically inform the public of all railway incidents associated with fatigue management.
"We're not going to let Canadian Pacific endanger the lives of our members and of people living close to railroad tracks," cautioned Teamsters Canada president Robert Bouvier [a suggestion wholeheartedly rejected by CP]. "We're going to keep fighting until CP respects its workers and gives them the rest they need."
On Monday CP appointed Paul Haggis as chairman of the board of directors. Haggis was previously president and CEO of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), an experience that could come in useful as the company negotiates the pension settlement with its workers.