CP Rail workers back demands in strike vote
Source: Canadian Press
Published: January 11th 2008

Workers at CP Rail (TSX: CP) represented by the Canadian Auto Workers union are threatening to strike if they can't negotiate a new contract with Canada's second-biggest railway by Jan. 29.

The two sides have been negotiating since last fall but are far apart on several issues, the union said late Friday. The CAW said the Calgary-based rail operator is seeking concessions at a time it is making big profits.

Workers voted 85 per cent in favour of a strike to back contract demands. The current contract expires at midnight Jan. 29.

The union represents 2,500 workers in 22 locations across the country who work in the skilled trades, repairing and servicing trains and doing numerous other shop craft jobs.

"Our members are rallying strong behind the bargaining committee because they're intent on getting a decent contract," said Tom Murphy, president of CAW Local 101. "With CP having years of record breaking profits, we feel it's time for CP to come to the table and give members their just reward for their years of hard work."

In the third quarter, CP Rail earned a priofit of $219 million, up from $164 million for the same period last year. Revenues rose three per cent to $1.2 billion. The railway has benefited greatly from the boom in trade with Asia, as it carries commodities to West Coast ports.

However, CP Rail is expected to be squeezed by a slowdown in the Canadian and U.S. economies, which will affect shipments of everything from auto parts and lumber to coal, minerals and manufactured goods.

In trading Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, CP Rail shares rose 12 cents to close to $62.33.