Unifor served a 72-hour strike notice to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.
The strike — involving employees from five Locals — is scheduled to begin on Oct. 31 at 12:15 p.m.
According the union, a key issue is staffing levels at the locks as the seaway transitions to hands-free mooring. Unifor is calling for minimum staffing levels to deal with emergencies.
“The communities along the seaway benefit both from the good jobs it provides, and the work our members do to keep the waterway safe,” said Unifor’s national representative Joel Fournier in a statement.
“We believe that having no one at the lock is not a good idea. The risk of an environmental disaster with all of the dangerous cargo going through the seaway is very real.”
Three collective agreements at the Cornwall, Ontario-based employer expired on March 31, 2014.
The 460 members of Unifor along the St. Lawrence Seaway from Niagara to Montreal are represented by Locals 4212 and 4211 in Niagara and Cornwall, Local 4323 in Iroquois, and Locals 4319 and 4320 in Montreal, Que.
The corporation — a not-for-profit organization responsible for the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic through the Canadian Seaway facilities — employs supervisory, operations and maintenance and office workers.
A mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services is currently assisting the parties in negotiations.
“Our government is disappointed that the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and Unifor have not come to terms on the collective agreements,” said Kellie Leitch, minister of labour. “I strongly encourage both parties to continue negotiating to find a solution that will benefit everyone. The best solution in any dispute is always the one that the parties reach themselves.”
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