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Labour minister to meet with CP Rail, union reps

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Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said on Tuesday she will meet representatives of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP-T) and the union representing its locomotive engineers and conductors to encourage the two sides to reach an agreement to avoid a strike.

"Our government is concerned that a work stoppage would have a negative effect on Canadian businesses, families, and the economy," Raitt said in a statement.

About 4,800 engineers, conductors and traffic controllers at CP are poised to walk off the job on Wednesday, shutting down freight operations on Canada's second-biggest railroad as well as disrupting some commuter services in the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver areas.

The strike would come after the two sides failed to reach a negotiated labor agreement. The union, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, issued 72-hours' strike notice on Saturday.

The central issue in the dispute is CP's desire to cut pension plan payments by 40 percent, according to the union. CP, which argues that its offer is "fair and reasonable", said it needs to cut legacy pension and post-retirement benefits to make them comparable with those in the rest of the industry.

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