Unifor, Canada’s largest union has extended the strike deadline imposed to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) this week meaning the vitally-important maritime shipping artery will remain for the time being.
The initial deadline would have shut the St. Lawrence Seaway at just past noon today, however the union has given SLSMC until 5pm on Monday to reach an agreement.
“We remain hopeful that a deal can be reached,” said Unifor National Representative Joel Fournier.
UNIFOR is Canada’s largest private sector union and represents the Seaway’s 460 unionized employees. The union alleges that the incorporation of a Hands Free Mooring and Remote Lock Operation system included in the Seaway’s modernization program raises serious safety concerns.
SLSMC disagrees: “This program is essential to ensuring that the Seaway can operate on a basis that is both safe and sustainable. Contrary to union allegations, the SLSMC is confident that it will continue to process ships through its locks in a safe and secure manner,” SLSMC said in a statement earlier this week.
“Despite UNIFOR’s strike notice, the SLSMC remains committed to obtaining a fair settlement, and will continue to bargain in good faith with the assistance of a federally appointed mediator,” the statement added.
Talks will continue through the weekend under a media blackout as long as the parties remain engaged in the process. The two sides have been meeting day and night since Tuesday in hopes of reaching a deal.
Under Canada’s federal labour law, 72 hours’ notice must be given of any potential strike or lockout.