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CN Rail workers extend strike deadline for 24 hours

About 6,000 Canadian National Railway workers across the country have extended their strike deadline for 24 hours.

They had threatened to go on strike if a day-long, last-minute bargaining session in Montreal on Wednesday failed to produce results.

But union spokesman Rick Johnston said both sides agreed to continue talking to try to reach a deal.

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The affected employees include clerical workers as well as those the union said are vital to repairing and keeping the engines and cars rolling - electricians, pipefitters, sheet-metal workers and heavy-duty mechanics.

In Winnipeg, 1,300 workers would be affected, including employees at the Transcona shops, the Symington yards, the railway's intermodal facility and its downtown call centre.

Union spokesman Doug Olshewski, national representative for the Canadian Auto Workers, said contracts for the two railway groups, clerical and shopcraft, expired Dec. 31. Last week, members voted 90 per cent in favour of strike action and imposed a deadline of midnight Wednesday night.

CN Rail spokesman Mark Hallman said the railway had contingency plans to maintain operations if Wednesday's talks were unsuccessful, but he added the company remained optimistic that a successful settlement with the union could be reached.

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