Workers from CP Rail are returning to their jobs today following Federal back-to-work legislation. The bill was fast-tracked through Parliament over the past three days by Conservatives and Liberals, and championed by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. This is the thiid major strike Harper’s government has forced back since winning a majority last year.

Negotiations will now enter Arbitration, with power to force a contract on the union. Though the strike is over, the effects are likely to linger for some time. It take “weeks” to clear the backlog, but years to forget about what happened here. In the long run, this will only One study from the CD Howe Institute found that back-to-work orders more than tripled the likelihood that the next round to be settled by arbitration or more back-to-work legislation, and led to contracts with wages averaging 2.9% less than similar contracts by the time of the next round. The resentment they generate often leads to more strikes as well as other types of job action, like slowdowns and work-to-rule campaigns.

For a final word on this strike, I turned again to my friend the Conductor about his thoughts about the issues, which are still far from resolved. He sent the following reply via text:

We, as workers, have to work extremely erratic schedules which often cause us to miss family events. Many of my coworkers have no recolection of periods of their children’s lives, only being caught up on the family status late at night when returning home. We are forced by economics to work when we’re tired. Not only does this wreck havoc on our sleep schedules, but also on our bodies. We continue to tolerate this schedule for decades because of the promise that one day we will be able to collect on a pension that will allow us to live comfortably for the remainder of our lives. Unfortuantely, due to the the abuse that our bodies have recieved, not only due to sleep deprivation (which studies show to be cumulative), but stress as well, many workers do not end up collecting many of those pension cheques. Due to CP’s greed, they are trying to claw back 40% of our pensions and allow us even fewer days off (unpaid). We are fed up with the company hiding behind the Federal Government to avoid making concessions. CP made 300% more profit in the first quarter of 2012 over 2011. The company (with aid from the government) is essentially trying to rob the working class of a comfortable retirement to enrich shareholders. We want a fair and balanced contract that allows us to work safely up to a good pension upon retirement.

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