Grain farmers hit by seaway strike, as management asks labour board for exception
MONTREAL — Grain farmers, steelmakers and fertilizer shippers are all feeling the squeeze from a strike by St. Lawrence Seaway workers.
The job action by 361 Unifor members at 13 of the 15 locks along the key trade corridor kicked off Sunday, shutting it down immediately.
Crosby Devitt, who heads the Grain Farmers of Ontario, says the majority of crops yielded by the 28,000 producers he represents are exported, as farmers wrap up the soybean harvest and begin to reap corn.
Devitt says there is no export alternative to the seaway, which runs between Lake Erie and Montreal and carried $16.7 billion worth of cargo last year — nearly half of it grain and iron ore.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. says it has applied to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for an exception on the transport of grain, a request that if granted would see the commodity flow through the artery despite the strike.
Meanwhile, Algoma Central, the biggest domestic ship operator on the Great Lakes, has said many of its ships are now docked, waiting to haul iron ore to mills in Hamilton where it will be turned into steel for the construction and auto industries.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2023.
The Canadian Press