Canadian workers have reached an agreement to end a week-long strike that blocked a major waterway in the Great Lakes

image
Business / Thursday, 02 November 2023 14:24

Canadian workers have reached an agreement to end a week-long strike that blocked a major waterway in the Great Lakes, disrupting the flow of grain and other goods from the United States and Canada.

About 360 workers from Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, in Ontario and Quebec walked off the job on October 22 due to a dispute over wages with St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

Seaway Management announced that vessels would resume movement when employees return to work at 7 a.m. on Monday.

"We have an agreement that is fair to employees and ensures a strong and stable future for Seaway," said CEO Terence Bowles in a statement on Sunday.

Unifor stated that a ratification vote on the agreement will be scheduled in the coming days.

"The details of the preliminary agreement will first be communicated to members and will be disclosed following the ratification of the agreement," the union said in a statement.

The strike resulted in the closure of 13 locks on the waterway between Lake Erie and Montreal, blocking vessels in the Great Lakes and preventing new ships from entering.

The St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes are part of a system of locks, canals, rivers, and lakes that stretches over 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean to the western end of Lake Superior in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Last year, it transported goods worth over $12 billion (nearly 17 billion Canadian dollars). The vessels that travel on it include ocean-going "salties" and "lakers" that ply the lakes.

This is the first strike to block this critical waterway since 1968.

According to the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the strike, which occurred during one of the busiest times of the year for the waterway, has led to losses of up to $100 million per day in economic activity in Canada and the United States.

"We are pleased that this critical interruption to Seaway traffic has come to an end and we can once again focus on meeting the needs of consumers around the world," said Chamber President Bruce Burrows in a statement on Sunday.