VICTORIA, March 31, 2016 /CNW/ - Despite the protests of front line officers, the Canadian Coast Guard management has just announced that it is rushing ahead with plans to close the Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre in Comox on May 10, 2016. Unifor Local 2182 says that ongoing audio quality issues at other MCTS centres are so serious that the safety of vessels and the coastline are at risk.
"Radio transmissions received in Victoria and Prince Rupert are, in some circumstances, literally impossible to understand," said Joie Warnock, Unifor's Western Director. "The coast guard needs to put the brakes on and analyze the threat to marine safety. We aren't waiting to say 'we told you so' after a tragic accident."
The coast guard is choosing to close the Comox centre despite the ongoing study being undertaken by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that won't wrap up until May.
"It is grossly improper for the coast guard to act without the Standing Committee's recommendation," said Warnock. "The coast guard is acting without the input of Parliament and against the vigorous objection of front line communications officers who know the risks better than anyone else."
The Comox location provides an emergency back-up for Victoria and Prince Rupert MCTS centres as the only centre located outside the tsunami hazard zone and built to post disaster standards.
By monitoring traffic, MCTS centres are the first line of defense for mariners in distress or when an ecological disaster strikes. Over the last two years 9 of the 22 MCTS Centres were closed without consulting industry, mariners, the public, or the union.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.
For further information: Please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549 (cell) or Ian.Boyko@Unifor.org