Unifor speaks with Mayor Clarke to avoid labour upset ahead of cruise ship season

SYDNEY, NS, April 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor Local 4624 workers brought their case before Mayor Cecil Clarke to discuss concerns about the future of their jobs. Stevedores at the Sydney waterfront were told they no longer had jobs after the Sydney Ports Corp. decided to hire non-unionized workers ahead of the upcoming cruise ship season.

"It is nothing more than pure arrogance from Sydney Ports Corp. Inc. to dismiss the workers and their union rights without any discussion," said Linda MacNeil, National Representative for Unifor. "This could also impact the strong economic stimulus the cruise ship season brings to the City of Sydney and surrounding communities."

The situation was brought to Mayor Clarke because the municipality leases the dock to Sydney Ports Corp., and is therefore implicated in labour issues at the site. MacNeil pointed to the arrival of a new company, Logistec, last year as a good example of how to avoid any interruptions in service at the dock. Logistec signed a memorandum of agreement recognizing the union and no labour disruptions occurred.

After the meeting with the mayor and four councillors on Thursday morning, it was agreed that the issue would be brought before the entire city council on Tuesday, April 22. MacNeil is confident that the city council will act quickly to address this issue ahead of the May 7 start to the cruise ship season.

The sudden change in staffing has also raised questions about how the Sydney Ports Corp. plans to operate in the future.

"The port authority has a moral obligation to recognize the long-standing union rights of these stevedores who have done this work for up to 50 years," said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. "Sydney Ports has handled this matter in a most disrespectful fashion and to treat these employees like this, including forcing them re-apply for their own jobs, is unacceptable behaviour from a local employer. This is the kind of act we'd expect from a multinational corporation with no roots in our community, not from one of our own."

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 305,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.

SOURCE Unifor

For further information:

Linda MacNeil, National Representative, 902-562-3857 or linda.macneil@unifor.org and Shelley Burgoyne, Communications, 902-717-7491 or shelley.burgoyne@unifor.org