Employment Law

Global News – CN Rail Strike and Legislation

CN rail, CN Rail strike, legislation

Employment Lawyer on legal options during strike

The federal government is attempting to negotiate an end to the CN Rail strike as calls from the Canadian public for Ottawa to step in and force workers back on the job begin to ramp up.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau told reporters on Friday that “We believe that mediation, collective bargaining is the right way to do this. We believe this is not only the most probable but also the fastest way to find a solution.”

Individuals, businesses and communities across the country have sounded alarm bells on the impact the rail strike, now in its fourth day, will have on the economy. Quebec, for instance, claims that it has only days of propane left to fuel hospitals, nursing homes and farms that require the fuel to be shipped by rail.

Legal experts, including Lior Samfiru, employment lawyer and partner at Ottawa employment law firm Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, point out that the federal government does not have the ability to end strike, apart from legislation.

“The only way for a government to intervene is through legislation,” Samfiru told Global News reporter Amanda Connolly.

The government could introduce back-to-work legislation along with a “cooling off period” to kick negotiations back into gear. Ottawa could also label CN Rail workers and their role as an “essential service” which would make their strike illegal.

Severance for CN Rail workers

“The bottom line is that this all involves the government convening and passing legislation. Certainly, given the current state of the legislature, this poses significant logistical issues. However, short of passing legislation, nothing can be done.”

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