SIU of Canada says trade pact threatens cabotage laws

James Given, President SIU of Canada James Given, President SIU of Canada

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 — The planned Canadian-European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is "the most serious threat that we have ever faced in our industry," says James Given, President of maritime union SIU of Canada.

Mr. Given says the agreement "will have a severe negative impact on the Canadian maritime industry by opening domestic trade to foreign carriers, doing away with our cabotage laws."

The EU and Canada plan to sign the accord at an Ottawa summit on Sept. 25-26. It must still be ratified by both the EU and Canadian parliaments.

According to the SIU of Canada, the agreement will allow EU beneficially owned Flag of Convenience (FOC) vessels and European national flag vessels to trade freely between Canadian ports without any restrictions on origin of the crew, or level of wage and working conditions.

In response to the threat posed by CETA, the SIU of Canada has formed the Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition. It includes leaders from the following unions from Canada and other countries: UNIFOR, International Longshoremen's Association, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Alliance du St-Laurent, Canadian Union of Public Employees- Dockers, United Steelworkers, Canadian Labour Congress, Teamsters Canada, International Transport Workers' Federation, European Transport Workers' Federation, BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, International Association of Machinists, Maritime Union of Australia, AFL- CIO Maritime Trades Department.

The coalition says that, once CETA is in place, "it will not take long before the rest of the Canadian transportation sectors are affected, including, air, road and rail."

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