ANCHORED?: Seaway prepares to shut down in advance of strike deadline

ANCHORED?: Seaway prepares to shut down in advance of strike deadline
A ship transits the St. Lawrence Seaway.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The St. Lawrence Seaway could shut down this week.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) said Wednesday plans are to shutter the system, which sees hundreds of  millions of dollars in traffic every year, if unionists move ahead with a strike.

Seaway officials were served with a strike notice that comes with a Friday deadline by UNIFOR – a union that represents lock workers.  The union intends to begin strike action as of 12:15 p.m.

Workers are miffed because a new automated system is being introduced that will significantly reduce the amount of hands-on worker required to lock a ship through the system.

“This program is essential to ensuring that the Seaway can operate on a basis that is both safe and sustainable,” the Seaway said in a statement Wednesday. “Contrary to union allegations, the SLSMC is confident that it will continue to process ships through its locks in a safe and secure manner.”

The company says it still wants to begoatiate in advance of the strike deadline.

“As a result of UNIFOR’s strike notification, SLSMC has started implementing its detailed plans for an orderly and safe shutdown of the system within the 72-hour notice period,” continued the statement. “Should the unionized workers proceed with strike action, as scheduled, the St. Lawrence Seaway will be closed to all traffic.”

It’s unclear how many ships will be trapped in the system if the Seaway is shut down.

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