Seaway talks to resume

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by Emily Atkins

Unifor and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC)will resume talks to end the strike that has shut the waterway down since October 22.

The negotiations will re-start on Friday morning, October 27th, as confirmed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.

In a statement, the seaway said it continues to be extremely concerned with the impact the current strike by its unionized employees is having on Canadian and U.S. supply chains and economies.

Numerous business groups have voiced their concern about delays in getting essential cargoes delivered.

“This labour dispute will have a major impact on our businesses. This is another interruption at the heart of the supply chain, and manufacturers are once again being held hostage,” said Dennis Darby, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said small businesses were seriously affected by the long strike at BC ports and the supply chain disruptions it caused this summer. “The last thing the Canadian economy needs right now is another strike blocking a busy trade route and impacting businesses once again,” the advocacy group said in a statement.

CFIB is asking the government to ensure that the St. Lawrence Seaway remains fully operational while negotiations continue. It also continues to call for federally regulated workers who are indispensable to the supply chain to be deemed essential workers to avoid similar strikes in the future. 

Both federal labour minister Seamus O’Regan and transport
minister Pablo Rodriguez have urged the parties to return to the table.

The seaway is a key economic artery for Quebec, Ontario and Eastern Canada. In 2022, about 36.3 million metric tons of cargo valued at $16.7 billion passed through the St. Lawrence Seaway’s infrastructure, generating a total of nearly $6 billion in economic activity and supporting over 42,000 jobs in Canada.