The St. Lawrence Seaway was closed Sunday as hundreds of workers walked off the job.
The outage is expected to have an immediate impact on freight traffic along the highway between Montreal and Lake Erie.
In a release just after midnight on Sunday, the union announced that despite negotiating “until the last moment,” it was unable to reach an agreement with the employer before the strike deadline.
“We cannot allow workers’ rights to be violated,” Daniel Cloutier, Unifor’s Quebec director, said in a release. I hope they reconsider.”
ask for a wage increase
The union said this week it was maintaining a “1,000 nautical mile distance” from management on the key issue of pay, and that it was the responsibility of employers to avoid transport disruptions.
“These are jobs that require rigorous training, a high level of understanding of health and safety risks, and a great responsibility for the health of seafarers and their cargo, who are irreplaceable,” Cloutier previously said. said in a release.
In its own statement released just after midnight, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) said the parties are at an impasse as Unifor “continues to insist on wage increases inspired by auto-related negotiations,” and the Seaway will remain closed until the next deadline. He said it would be closed. An agreement can be reached.
“The stakes are high and we are committed to finding solutions that are in the best interests of our companies and our employees,” SLSMC President and CEO Terrence Bowles said in a statement.
“In times of economic and geopolitical crisis, it is important that sea routes remain reliable transport routes for the efficient transport of critical cargo.”
progress in negotiations is slow
SLSMC said Friday it remains committed to negotiating in good faith, but also said progress is slow and the union’s wage demands could lead to toll increases.
The company on Wednesday cited the potential impact on freight transportation as a major concern.
“The movement of cargo by sea is an important part of North America’s economy and supply chain,” said spokeswoman Jean Aubrey Morin.
“This labor action in particular comes at a time when the world desperately needs this essential commodity, even though supplies are being affected by the situation in Ukraine and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events occurring around the world. will have an impact on the movement of ”
The company said it is awaiting a response to an application to the Industrial Relations Board of Canada seeking an order confirming the application of Canada Labor Law regarding the movement of grain during strikes.
The system will be shut down during a 72-hour notice period to allow ships to safely transit the seaway system, and SLSMC said it is in regular contact with the maritime industry. There are currently no ships waiting to leave the system, but there are more than 100 ships outside the system that are affected by this situation, the statement said.
Five members of the local union, which includes about 360 people from engineers to managers, were negotiating with management authorities until Saturday night.
Negotiations began in June with the help of a federal mediator and continued after Unifor issued a 72-hour strike notice to the employer on Wednesday.
Last year, about $16.7 billion worth of cargo, almost half of it grain and iron ore, passed through the system of locks, canals and waterways.
Impact on economy and business
The Montreal Port Authority said in a statement Sunday that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River marine ecosystems support 75 per cent of the country’s manufacturing capacity and nearly two-thirds of Canada’s population.
“Service interruptions and breakdowns in the supply chain undermine economic resilience both regionally and nationally,” spokesperson René LaRouche said in a statement.
The Montreal Port Authority is calling on all parties to find a quick solution to “limit the negative impact on both the businesses that rely on these products and Canada’s reputation as a trading partner.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has expressed concern about the impact of the strike on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which were particularly severely affected by this summer’s prolonged strike at B.C.’s ports.
“Small businesses and the Canadian economy as a whole don’t need another strike that cuts off vital trade routes and disrupts trade,” said Jasmine Guenette, CFIB’s vice president for national affairs.
“Small and medium-sized businesses are already facing inflation, labor shortages, high debt levels and declining demand. They cannot afford another strike that will negatively impact their operations.”
The CFIB is calling on the government to keep the St. Lawrence Seaway fully operational while negotiations continue. We also continue to urge federally regulated workers essential to the supply chain to be recognized as essential workers to avoid similar strikes in the future.