The Guild has been negotiating with CP management since the end of November.
On January 18 the company asked the federal Minister of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer to work with both sides to reach an agreement. The officer will be appointed within the next couple of weeks.
The conciliator’s mandate is for a maximum of 60 days from the date of appointment. He or she will report on the progress of discussions to the federal Minister of Labour. The conciliator has the authority to end the conciliation phase early if he or she believes that the two sides are truly at an impasse. On the other hand the 60-day period can be extended if both CP and the Guild agree that it would be useful to do so and that a deal is achievable.
If there is still no agreement at the end of the conciliation period, the two sides have a 21-day “cooling off” period, during which they can continue to meet to try to reach an agreement. After that, either side can initiate job action. The employer may impose a lockout of its employees, or the employees may go on strike; the party taking the action must give 72 hours notice.
All of these provisions are set out in the Canada Labour Code.
Is a strike or a lockout coming?
A legal strike can’t occur until the employees give a strike mandate to their bargaining committee. This would be done via a strike vote that would have to be held no more than 60 days prior to the beginning of a strike.
It’s important to remember that a strong strike mandate generally helps make a deal happen, because it shows the employer that its employees are willing to stand up for their rights and that they support their bargaining committee.
Granting a strike mandate doesn’t mean that a strike is imminent, unavoidable or immediate. You are in fact giving your bargaining committee the authority to take any action it deems necessary to reach an agreement – up to and including a work stoppage.
What should I expect from the employer?
We have little control over that, but we hope the employer will use the conciliation process to help get a deal with employees.
What else can I expect from the Guild?
You can expect your bargaining committee to work hard to get a deal with management.
To date we have not provided much detail about both sides’ proposals at the table. As the conciliation process moves forward we plan to be more forthcoming in our views. We still won’t go into great detail on either side’s proposals, though, since they can change at a moment’s notice, and negotiations should happen at the bargaining table rather than in the workplace.
How do I get more information?
Keep an eye on the Guild’s website at www.cmg.ca. We will also continue to send updates via e-mail. And of course you can always ask a member of the bargaining committee, or contact Keith Maskell at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Your bargaining committee:
Keith Maskell, CMG staff representative