CP Rail dispatchers OK pact

CP Rail dispatchers OK pact

Canadian Pacific Railway traffic controllers on Tuesday ratified a new three-year contract, ending a seven-week strike/lock-out against the rail operator.

Some of the 220 controllers represented by the Rail Canada Traffic Controllers (RCTC) union, a division of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who had been off the job since June 18 are slated to return to work Saturday after ratifying the agreement that runs through Dec. 2005 in votes at Montreal, Winnipeg and Calgary. Some 140 to 150 management employees, who had kept the trains running, will return to their regular jobs.

The agreement, whicb runs through Dec. 31, 2005, provides for wage, pension and benefit improvements, including pay increases of two, three and two percent over the next three years, along with other adjustments.

The controllers had been without a contract since Jan. 1. The union went on strike and the company locked out the controllers on June 18 after negotiations broke down.

"We've had a very busy summer so far, but they kept the trains running and maintained a normal service - there were no disruptions to our service," said Darcie Park, a spokeswoman for Calgary-based CP Rail.

United States operations, largely handled from an operations center in Minneapolis, were not affected.

CP Rail currently is in negotiations with the Canadian Council of Railway Operating Unions (CCROU), about 4,000 locomotive engineers and conductors who have been without a contract since last December. The negotiations are stalled while the CCROU is preoccupied with an inter-union dispute but the railway hopes them to resume soon, Park said. The negotiations had been, she said, "progressing" and the railway was "nowhere near" any threat that agreement would not be reached before talks broke down.