St. Lawrence Seaway employees may go on strike in October

The following is the text of a press release issued by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.:
(CORNWALL, Ontario) — The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has received the results of strike votes taken by its 445 unionized employees. The votes give the union a mandate to strike on 72 hours’ notice at any time after October 10, 2008.
The SLSMC values the contribution of its employees and demonstrates this by providing salary and benefits packages that are among the most generous in the transportation industry. Job security for existing employees is a firm commitment, and safety is the top priority for the Corporation.
Given that the SLSMC must apply new technology to ensure that marine transportation remains competitive in an era of fierce competition within the transportation sector, changes are being sought to certain clauses in the collective agreement. The union is well aware that the key objective of the Corporation is to secure flexibility surrounding work rules and technological change – the first fundamental change in work methods during the fifty-year life of the Seaway.
Union representatives have clearly heard that clauses that impede reasonable flexibility in work rules must be changed in a future collective agreement if the Corporation is to achieve its mandate and be sustainable into the future. As new technology is implemented, current employees will have opportunities to train for higher skilled jobs and will retain their employment guarantee. Any reduction in employment will be achieved through attrition, as present employees retire.
SLSMC continues to be confident that a satisfactory resolution to these matters can be found at the bargaining table, and looks forward to a resumption of negotiations on October 6, 2008. In the meantime, the Corporation is preparing contingency plans to ensure an orderly shutdown of the system in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, and will begin communicating these plans to its customers and employees immediately.
By Professional Mariner Staff