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Algoma Central Corporation  CEO slams delayed re-opening of Seaway strike negotiations


By Leo Ryan, Editor

On the third day of a strike by 360 Canadian workers paralyzing the St. Lawrence Seaway, representatives of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and of the Unifor union have agreed to accept a federal government notice to renew mediated negotiations Friday morning in Toronto.  But in a telephone interview with Maritime Magazine, the chief executive of a leading Canadian shipping company today sharply criticized delaying such a resumption by several days.

“If the solution for the government is to bring things to a settlement, they are not showing great signs of urgency,” said Gregg Ruhl, President and CEO of Algoma Central Corporation. “I don’t know why it’s not Wednesday or Thursday. Millions of dollars are evaporating daily.”

“The government has to take the bull by the horns through a combination of initiatives which could include back-to-work legislation,” he said.

“You can’t allow 360 people shut down the economy – that’s too much power,” he declared.

“It’s all impacting on supply chains on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border,” Mr. Ruhl added.

“So far,” he continued, “the work stoppage has impacted on 13 Algoma vessels and over 100 ships for the industry – and still counting.”

Mr. Ruhl estimated that Algoma is losing $1 million a day in sales.

And as to the overall economic impact on the Great Lakes/Seaway industry, including customers, he advanced the figure of US$110 million daily – based on the findings of a recent special study.

Canada Steamship Lines comment

For his part, Allister Paterson, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer of Canada Steamship Lines, stated: “CSL is currently facing considerable disruptions in our operations due to the ongoing Unifor strike. This strike is impacting fifteen out of our fleet of seventeen Great Lakes ships.

“Each day of this strike translates to a 2% reduction in our capacity to deliver cargoes to their intended destinations before the winter shutdown. Those lost navigation days will come at significant cost to our industry, our customers and ultimately to Canadians, the extent of which will be determined later.”

(Photo from Algoma Central Corporation)


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