Strike notice served on St. Lawrence Seaway

Photo: flickr/Ceedub 13

Five Unifor locals representing workers along the St. Lawrence Seaway served a 72 hour strike notice today. 

Strike notice was served when the two sides met today in Cornwall, Ontario, returning to the table for the first time in several months. 

Staffing levels were a key issue at the bargaining table, as the Seaway moves to hands-free mooring, hoping to eliminate the staff currently working on the locks. 

In April 2014, the Seaway announced its plan to automate the locks, with funding from the federal government. Work has already begun to retrofit locks with the new system, with the goal of having all locks hands-free by 2018.

Unifor is calling for minimum staffing levels on the locks to deal with emergencies, arguing that the unmanned locks could pose serious threat.

"We believe that having no one at the lock is not a good idea," said Unifor National Representative Joel Fournier in a press release. "The risk of an environmental disaster with all of the dangerous cargo going through the Seaway is very real."

The five locals (Locals 4212, 4211, 4319, and 4320), represent 460 union members working along the Seaway from Niagara to Montreal.  The earliest a strike could begin isOctober 31 at 12:15 pm. 

Ella Bedard is rabble.ca's labour intern. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People. She now lives in Toronto where she enjoys chasing the labour beat, biking and birding.

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