The SIU, AMO, MEBA and MM&P have issued the following joint statement. For a PDF copy with logos, click HERE
The undersigned American maritime unions stand in solidarity with our Canadian counterparts, and we categorically oppose current attempts to cripple Canadian maritime law via the EU/Canada CETA negotiations.
The proposals that have leaked out would be disastrous for professional mariners, bad for responsible shipowners and operators, and dangerous for the environment. These schemes threaten to eliminate good tax-paying jobs while rolling back hard-won worker and environmental protections.
We won’t stand for it here in the United States and we will not accept an erosion of national cabotage with our Canadian brothers and sisters.
National cabotage laws exist all over the world, and for good reason. They promote strong national economies. They help maintain vital skills and industrial bases in shipyards. They are nothing short of indispensable in preserving well-trained, reliable shipboard manpower pools. Any weakening of such laws in Canada is completely unacceptable. Considering the service and sacrifice of the Canadian Merchant Navy during the Second World War in preserving European democracy, it is appalling that representatives from some of the very same nations that benefited from that sacrifice now want to destroy the industry.
Canadians got a taste of what it’s like to exclusively rely on foreign-flag shipping during the infamous GTS Katie incident in 2000. American maritime unions consider our Jones Act indispensable as it has always provided the U.S. an additional layer of national security, especially in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and war on terror.
As Vice Adm. James B. Perkins, then the commander of the U.S. Military Sealift Command, put it at the time of the GTS Katie incident, “Canada’s dilemma is a classic example of the danger of becoming militarily dependent on ships registered in other countries. Even if foreign ships are available, it’s unwise now or ever for any country to rely on foreign tonnage and foreign seamen to carry out its defense or foreign policy mission.”
Moreover, we agree with the sentiments recently expressed by the European Transport Workers Federation. Canada should maintain and even strengthen its domestic cabotage arrangements. To do otherwise would spell the death of an industry that cannot afford to be lost. It would also set an unwise, deplorable precedent.
Instead of seeking to attack Canadian cabotage, the EU should welcome a similar policy package to protect European shipping by introducing a level playing field for intra-community trades that would help to stop the downward spiral in salaries and the discriminatory practices against seafarers.
American Maritime Officers
International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots
Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association
Seafarers International Union