The Canada-based Chamber of Marine Commerce is calling for the government of Canada to step in and restore the full operation on the St. Lawrence Seaway, as the “Seaway closure threatens the quality of life in North America,” the Chamber says.

Employees in five Unifor union locals, three in Ontario and two in Quebec, who are employed by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC), began strike action on October 22, after negotiations failed to reach a satisfactory agreement.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is a not-for-profit corporation responsible for the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic through the Canadian Seaway facilities, which consists of 13 of the 15 locks between Montreal and Lake Erie.

Canada’s largest private sector union, Unifor, with more than 315,000 members across the country, said it “made the difficult decision to go on strike” and “cannot allow workers’ rights to be compromised.”

The Chamber of Marine Commerce, is calling on the SLSMC, Unifor, and the Canadian government to take all necessary steps “to resolve the dispute now and resume traffic on the Seaway.”

In accordance with the authority, Seaway infrastructure supports $9.5 billion USD in economic activity annually, almost 67,000 direct and indirect jobs, approximately $5.4 billion CAD ($4.2 billion USD in wages), and movement of 36.3 million tonnes of key commodities valued at $16.7 billion CAD ($12.8 billion USD).

“The Seaway has a long and respected reputation for reliability in its operations, and therefore it is our industry’s natural expectation that the Seaway will resolve this matter with minimal disruption, and with the support of the Canadian Federal government wherever possible,) stated the Chamber.

A prompt resolution is crucial to ensure the uninterrupted movement of vital commodities such as grain, cement, stone, gypsum, salt, and iron ore which are essential for various sectors, such as the construction, food supply, safety, steelmaking, and the auto sector.

As it is furthermore reported by the Chamber, the impacts this strike will have on the economy, jobs, and the supply chain highlight the importance of marine shipping on the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway, and the need to resolve this dispute quickly.