Deadline looms for St. Lawrence Seaway workers
Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) said 445 unionized workers have given their union a mandate to strike on 72 hours’ notice at any time after Oct. 10. The workers belong to the Canadian Auto Workers union.
Canada’s Financial Post said the shipping industry and customers are bracing for a serious disruption to Great Lakes shipping if the strike happens.
The newspaper said some oceangoing freighters have already fled the Great Lakes for fear of being stranded.
It added that the Shipping Federation of Canada has begun petitioning Ottawa to intervene.
The workers have been without a contract since April 1 as they duel over the Seaway’s bid to modernize its operations.
“Given that the SLSMC must apply new technology to ensure that marine transportation remains competitive in an era of fierce competition within the transportation sector, changes are being sought to certain clauses in the collective agreement,” the Canadian corporation said. “The union is well aware that the key objective of the corporation is to secure flexibility surrounding work rules and technological change — the first fundamental change in work methods during the 50-year life of the Seaway.”
SLSMC said it was “confident that a satisfactory resolution to these matters can be found at the bargaining table, and looks forward to a resumption of negotiations on Oct. 6.”
“In the meantime, the corporation is preparing contingency plans to ensure an orderly shutdown of the system in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, and will begin communicating these plans to its customers and employees immediately,” it added.