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Engineers going on strike Saturday, CN says

Canadian National Railway (CN) has been served notice that its locomotive engineers are headed out on strike just after midnight Saturday (Nov. 28).

Montreal-based CN said in a release Wednesday that it received the required 72 hours’ notice this morning from the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), which represents about 1,700 CN engineers.

"If the TCRC strikes CN, the company is committed to provide the best possible service to its customers in the circumstances," CN said in its release.

The company described the union’s decision as "unfortunate because a strike is in no one’s interest — not the locomotive engineers, CN’s other employees, its customers or the Canadian economy."

While the TCRC has yet to make an official statement on the issue, the union had said Monday that CN had "declined" its request for additional negotiation dates.

Instead, CN later that day announced it would proceed with plans to raise its unionized engineers’ wages by 1.5 per cent and make changes to the mileage caps under which they operate.

The company had said Monday that it went ahead and made the changes to the engineers’ contract, which expired at the end of December last year, after CN "regrettably reached an impasse with the TCRC after bargaining in good faith with the union for more than a year."

CN on Wednesday said it’s "urging the TCRC to resume negotiations immediately to reach a settlement. If that is not possible, CN believes the union should agree to submit issues in dispute to binding arbitration before the Nov. 28 strike deadline."

The TCRC, CN said, had previously agreed to binding arbitration to end its strike at Via Rail in July. CN said its most recent offer to the union was for a two per cent wage hike, and said that was the same increase the TCRC had asked from Via.

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