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Canadian farmers want to keep grain moving during Seaway strike

Workers at St. Lawrence Seaway Management went on strike on October 22.

workers on strike
BruceEmmerling |

Workers at St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. went on strike on October 22 after failing to reach an agreement on wages, the Canadian labor union Unifor said.

Unifor, which represents 361 workers at the government-established company, said no agreement had been reached with management after a late Saturday deadline passed resulting in an immediate shutdown, Reuters reported.

Grain Farmers of Ontario, which represents Ontarioโ€™s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmers, is urging the Canadian government to ensure grain continues to flow through the St. Lawrence Seaway this harvest season.

โ€œThis is a crucial time for the grain harvest in Ontario and the closure of the St. Lawrence Seaway could mean that, in a matter of days, many farmers will have nowhere to deliver grain to and we risk the grain staying on the field too long to be viable,โ€ said Brendan Byrne, chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario. โ€œWe need governments at every level to do whatever they can to ensure the grain keeps moving. Farmers need it. Our food system needs it. Our economy needs it.โ€

According to the association, each year, six million tonnes of grain flows through the Seaway on its way to help feed the world. In an average month between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of grain travels through the Seaway to people in Canada, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and more.

Grain Farmers of Ontario urges Unifor and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation to quickly resolve this matter.

While the strike is ongoing, there is an opportunity to have grain transit continued and Grain Farmers of Ontario is calling for the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Transport Canada, the Canada Industrial Relations Board, Unifor and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Company to explore all opportunities quickly considering the importance of grain to Canada and other nations.

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