OTTAWA — Several MTD affiliates announced their solidarity with Canadian unions to fight an impending free trade pact between the Canadian government and the European Union that could eliminate many Canadian-flag maritime jobs by opening cabotage policies to foreign-owned ships and crews.
The Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition formed on September 3 to challenge the proposed free trade pact that would allow second registry European Union-owned vessels with international crews to sail in domestic Canadian waterways as well as open dredging jobs to EU-owned companies while prohibiting US companies from competing for Canadian dredging contracts.
SIU of Canada President and MTD Eastern Area Executive Board Member Jim Given was unanimously appointed chair of the new coalition. He told the union representatives attending the initial meeting this will be a hard battle.
“While we don’t like a fight, we don’t mind to bleed,” Given said. “This is the most serious threat that we have ever faced in our industry.”
He went on to say the members of the coalition are from all regions of Canada and are united to stop the agreement.
In a press release announcing the creation of the coalition, “This free trade agreement will allow EU beneficially owned flag of convenience vessels and so-called European National Flag to trade freely between Canadian ports without any restrictions on origin of the crew or level of wage and working conditions.”
The MTD, which has been involved in many fights to protect America’s freight cabotage law — the Jones Act — for decades, pledged its support for this campaign as Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan attended. In addition, the presidents of the Seafarers International Union (SIU), the American Maritime Officers, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association and the Masters, Mates & Pilots pledged their solidarity with the unions members north of the border.
In addition, MTD affiliates SIU, Steelworkers and Machinists signed on as charter members of the Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition. Also showing their support are the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the European Transport Workers’ Federation and the Maritime Union of Australia.