Maritime News

Canada settles with union on work permits case

21 February 2017

The government of Canada has come to a settlement with the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIUC) in the union’s campaign to expose government breaches in the issue of temporary work permits to foreign seafarers. The union had brought dozens of lawsuits against the government, which were due to be heard when the government reached a settlement with the SIUC on the issue.

The case goes back to 2015 when the union first filed lawsuits claiming that the government was violating the temporary foreign worker programme by systematically issuing work permits to the non-Canadian crew members of hundreds of foreign ships that were shipping in Canadian waters. The SIUC found that some temporary foreign workers were paid as little as CAD2.41 per hour, well below the Canadian prevailing wage.

As a result of a lawsuit brought by the union last July, the government admitted that it had improperly issued work permits to the foreign crew members of a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, New England, and the Federal Court set aside 11 work permits for its crew.

The union has now reached a settlement with Employment and Social Development Canada on the remaining 44 lawsuits on the issue. The agency has agreed to review the employment of temporary foreign workers on foreign-flagged vessels in consultation with SIUC, and to direct its officers to enforce requirements that employers should advertise positions to Canadian seafarers and only hire foreign crew if none are available. It will also investigate the union’s allegations that foreign seafarers on temporary work permits are paid below the prevailing wage.

SIUC welcomed the agreement as a major victory for its members and Canadian seafarers.


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