The Federal government tabled legislation Monday to order striking CN rail workers back to work.

Labour Minister Rona Ambrose said she would have preferred the two sides to come to an agreement on their two-day-old strike, but said she has no choice since weekend talks failed.

She said the strike by 1,700 train engineers is a threat to economic recovery.

"This is more than a private dispute between CN Rail and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference," she said. "It has serious repercussions for the national economy at a time when Canada's recovery from the global recession is still fragile."

The bill is expected to pass within a few days. Once it passes, it would end the strike and send the two sides to arbitration.

CN Rail and union the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference have been working with federal mediators for months, but haven't been able to hammer out a deal.

CN Rail, the country's largest railway, is offering a 1.5 per cent wage increase and wants to raise the maximum distance engineers can travel in one month to 6,900 kilometres-- an extra 800 kilometres over the current maximum.

The union argues the increase in hours would mean some staff would have to work seven days a week.

Managers have been operating the trains since the strike began.