St Lawrence Seaway reaches tentative deal, workers now clearing backlog

Unifor, the union representing the roughly 360 workers on the St Lawrence Seaway in eastern Canada, said on Sunday October 29th that it had reached a tentative labour agreement with employer St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp (SLMSC).

Other details of the agreement, which will require worker ratification, were not revealed. While the result of the vote by the workers was awaited, they returned to their jobs on Monday morning.

The strike had started on October 22nd after contract talks between Unifor and SLMSC broke down. Pressure was mounting from all sides for a deal to be reached, with the strike impacting businesses in Canada and the USA, and the winter shutdown of the Seaway approaching. The parties resumed negotiations on Friday.

The St Lawrence Seaway links the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and is managed by the Canadian not-for-profit SLMSC in association with US Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

The walkout affected about 150 vessels over the one-week period, with the stoppage meaning that about C$34m (US$24.5m) in economic activity being disrupted every day, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The Seaway Corp began implementing a recovery programme immediately and ships started moving again on Monday October 30th.