The company confirmed to Global that an email was sent to its customers Friday announcing the news, but would not share additional details.
The email, which was first reported by Reuters, does not say exactly how many workers are being called back, but said the move is being made due to a lack of blockades on the CN Rail network over the past 24 hours.
“While we are keeping a close watch for any further disruptions, we have started calling back many of the temporarily laid off employees based in Eastern Canada,” CN chief executive Jean-Jacques Ruest said in the email seen by Reuters.
Several blockades were set up on the company’s rail lines across the country in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern B.C., crippling CN’s operations in Eastern Canada for nearly three weeks.
The longest-standing of those blockades, set up by Mohawk First Nation members on their territory in Tyendinega, Ont., was taken down on Monday by police, who also arrested 10 people.
CN has been granted injunctions against the protesters, who had said they wouldn’t clear the way for freight and commuter trains until RCMP and Coastal GasLink left Wet’suwet’en territory.
The email says that after 21 days of disruptions, “there is a significant backlog of trains parked on our tracks and in our yards that will be processed,” which could take “several weeks” to complete and get the network fully recovered.
The company said its operations in Western Canada are on their way to being fully recovered.
The layoffs this month affected operational staff, including employees working at Autoport in Eastern Passage, Moncton, Charny and Montreal.
Supply chains already hit hard by the eight-day CN worker strike in November had warned it could take even longer to recover from the effects of the blockades.
The apparent end of the blockades comes as federal and B.C. Indigenous relations ministers are sitting down for talks with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and others involved in the Coastal GasLink dispute to try and find a solution.
The chiefs say they have sole rights and title over their traditional territory and have not agreed to the project. Twenty elected First Nations councils along the pipeline route, including bands within the Wet’suwet’en Nation, have signed agreements with the company.
—With files from Global’s Rachel D’Amore and Reuters