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Canadian National Railway kicks off recovery after eight-day strike

Credit: REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Canadian National Railway Co on Thursday said it was putting a recovery plan in place while ramping up operations after the country's biggest rail strike in a decade.

Adds context, source confirming Free Press story, CN no comment

Nov 28 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co CNR.TO on Thursday said it was putting a recovery plan in place while ramping up operations after the country's biggest rail strike in a decade.

The eight-day-longwork stoppage at Canada's largest railroad sent shocks through the country's economy with grain and propane shipments scuttled.

The strike by about 3,200 conductors and yard workers demanding improved working conditions and rest breaks ended on Tuesday as the company reached a tentative agreement with the Teamsters union.

In a statement, CN said the strike caused its network to run at about 10% of capacity and that it would work on starting its recovery plan while staying in direct contact with customers of the railroad to collect feedback on progress.

"Overriding emphasis will be placed on safety as we implement a disciplined and progressive ramp up to avoid congestion that can overwhelm parts of the supply chain that are the most vulnerable," said Chief Executive Officer JJ Ruest.

Canada relies on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway CP.TOto move products like crops, oil, potash, coal and other manufactured goods to ports and the United States.

The CN strike sparked national attention over worker fatigue, after the Teamsters released a recording of an exhausted rail worker pleading with a CN supervisor for a break after a 10-hour shift.

As part of the deal ending the strike, CN will waive the "work-now-grieve-later principle," under which workers were told to stay on the job and only contest any alleged break violations through the filing of a grievance, a source familiar with the matter said, confirming an earlier report by the Winnipeg Free Press. (https://bit.ly/2pY9D9p)

CN declined comment on the agreement's details while a spokesman for Teamsters Canada was not immediately available for comment.

The draft of the new labor agreement also calls for a retroactive 2.5% increase in hourly, mileage-based and flat rates of pay as of July 23, 2019, an identical wage rise a year later, and a 3% raise in 2021, the source added.

Union members should vote on the deal within eight weeks.

(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru Editing by Tom Brown)

((saumya.joseph@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 2290; Twitter: @SaumyaSibi;))

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