TORONTO (Reuters) -- Canada's biggest railway reached a last-minute tentative agreement with one of its unions on Monday, averting a lockout that threatened to delay imports from Asia and compound a U.S. West Coast port logjam.
Canadian National Railway Co and Unifor, the union representing its 4,800 mechanical, clerical and trucking workers, struck a deal just before the railway's 11 p.m. EST Monday deadline to lock out the workers.
The news is particularly a big relief to the auto industry, which moves vehicles on the CN's lines throughout North America.
"I'm delighted to say that Unifor and Canadian National Railway have been able to come to a tentative agreement," Canadian Labour Minister Kellie Leitch told Reuters outside the bargaining room. "CN will be running at full capacity tonight and tomorrow."
CN Rail operates freight trains on tracks across Canada and the United States, but Unifor represents only Canadian workers. The two main unresolved issues had been pay and benefits, a Unifor official said earlier on Monday.
Automakers such as Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and General Motors were monitoring the situation.
U.S. West Coast ports only resumed full operations over the weekend after a tentative labor deal late Friday ended a dispute that has caused months of disruption to trade, but port officials said it would take six to eight weeks to clear a backlog of containers.