CPKC says possible Canada rail strike unlikely before mid-July

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) said talks with the Teamsters Rail Conference Union have hit a deadlock, predicting that a legal strike or a lockout would not likely occur before mid-July.

In a statement posted on the company's website late on Wednesday, CPKC said the two sides had met from May 15 to 21 with the aid of federal mediators.

"Regrettably, and despite our best efforts, no progress was made. Additional bargaining dates have not been scheduled at this time," it said.

This month, workers at CPKC and Canadian National Railway Co who are represented by the Teamsters voted overwhelmingly to strike as early as May 22.

But Ottawa asked the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to rule whether a strike would have safety implications, pushing back the potential start date for a stoppage.

A legal strike or lockout cannot occur until the CIRB renders a decision.

"While it remains unclear how long it will take for the CIRB to issue a decision, based on precedent, it is unlikely the parties will be in a position to initiate a legal strike or lockout before mid-July or later," it said.

A work stoppage could be a major dent to Canada's supply chain and negatively impact major exports, including wheat, canola, potash and coal.

"A work stoppage and the need for binding arbitration can be completely avoided if CPKC took fatigue seriously and stopped demanding concessions that harm workers and undermine rail safety in Canada," the Teamsters said in a statement.

The union has said the rail companies were trying to remove rest provisions that are critical to safety.

"The fact that CPKC views binding arbitration as the only path forward demonstrates their lack of interest in good faith negotiations, hurting everyone in the process," it said in an emailed statement.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft and David Gregorio)