MONTREAL — Workers for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, members of the Unifor union, walked off the job just before midnight Oct. 21. The 361 workers ensure passage of ships through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, operating the locks and coordinating the ships.
Unifor locals 4211, 4212 and 4323 in Ontario, as well as locals 4319 and 4320 in Quebec are involved. The supervising and engineering staff had rejected a tentative agreement Aug. 1, then coordinated with maintenance, operations and administration workers to walk out together.
Workers on the picket line told the Militant the biggest question is winning wage increases that match inflation. The union reports they are “1,000 nautical miles apart” from the company.
“All of society is fed up,” said Stephane Beaudry, an electrician at the Saint-Lambert lock. “I remember just three or four years ago, butter used to be $4, now I’ve just seen it at $9.”
Canadian bosses are already screaming for the federal government to step in. “We urge the Government of Canada to use all the tools in its tool box to solve this strike immediately,” the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses complained that this strike comes on the heels of the 13-day strike at the ports in British Columbia. “The last thing the economy needs now is another busy trade route being blocked,” it said.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation had filed for the Canada Industrial Relations Board to force the passage of grain regardless of the strike, in accordance with the Canada Labour Code.
Support the strike! Oppose government strikebreaking! Send messages of solidarity to Unifor at 10100-565, boul. Cremazie Est, Montreal, QC, H2M 2W1, Canada, or visit the picket line at the Saint-Lambert lock.