Strike could shut down the St. Lawrence Seaway starting Friday
The union is concerned about jobs as Seaway plans to install automatic mooring system.
There has not been a strike on the waterway since 1968.
“We believe that having no one at the lock is not a good idea,” said Unifor National Representative Joel Fournier.
“The risk of an environmental disaster with all of the dangerous cargo going through the Seaway is very real.”
Bogora said 100 workers would be affected by the use of the automatic mooring system, but that some will be given new job opportunities such as equipment maintenance. Of the 67 jobs that will be eliminated, he said the Seaway believe that most, if not all, can be phased out through normal worker attrition over the five years it will take to install the machinery. Strike notice was served at the resumption of contract talks in Cornwall, Ontario, the first time the two sides had met in months. Unifor filed for federal conciliation in August.
The earliest a strike could begin is October 31 at 12:15 pm.
Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said as a result of UNIFOR’s strike notification, it has has started implementing its detailed plans for an orderly and safe shutdown of the system within the 72-hour notice period. Should the unionized workers proceed with strike action, as scheduled, the St. Lawrence Seaway will be closed to all traffic. Contrary to union allegations, the SLSMC said it “is confident that it will continue to process ships through its locks in a safe and secure manner.”
SLMC manages the canal along with the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. in the U.S., a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. Workers in the U.S. are not involved in the Unifor contract negotiations.
The Eisenhower and Snell locks in upstate New York operated by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. are not operated by Unifor members,
but traffic through them would be affected by a strike because ships going up or down the seaway have to pass through the Canadian locks.