Oct 3, 2011

St. Lawrence Seaway and union reach tentative deal

About 500 operation and maintenance workers avoid strike

The union representing workers on the St. Lawrence Seaway, a shipping route connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, said it has reached an agreement with management early this morning to avoid a potential strike.

On Friday, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, which represents 475 of the 575 Seaway supervisory, operations, maintenance and headquarters workers, said a strike could begin at noon on Monday.

Last week, Canada's Labour Ministry hinted that it might move to legislate the union back to work, as it has done during previous disputes at Air Canada and Canada Post.

"Our government is concerned that a strike is being considered and we are taking this situation very seriously," Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said in a statement.

The parties have been negotiating since May 2011. Details of the agreement will not be released until members have the opportunity to vote on the agreement. Ratification meetings are to be held over the next three weeks, the union said.

CAW Locals 4211, 4212, 4319, 4320 and 4324 represent the St. Lawrence Seaway workers.

- with files from Reuters

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