SOREL, Quebec — “After 10 years of service, I earn just $22.16 dollars [US$17] an hour,” Pascal Delisle said on the picket line in front of Ocean Towing Aug. 21. Eight members of United Steelworkers Local 9599 have been on strike here since June 20. These sailors provide staff transfer and guidance services to ships coming into port.
They are now required to work 56 hours a week, and have to be available “on call” for many more. They are resisting employer attempts to make their schedules worse, and are fighting for raises of 15%, 10% and 10% over three years.
“We’re facing unbridled capitalism,” Delisle said. He proudly pointed to other unions’ flags flying on a line in support of their fight. Delisle explained how one ship’s captain was suspended, first with pay and then without, for refusing to work with company-hired scabs.
Union officials point to federal government collusion in the company’s strike-breaking. Maritime transport is federally regulated here.
“This is the first time I’ve been ‘replaced’ when I’ve gone on strike,” said striker David Tetu, originally from Brittany in France. “I have five kids, Pascal has two. It’s not easy, but we need to hold the line here.”
Delisle said he was following the strikes by dockers, rail and transport workers in the U.K. “That’s the kind of unity we need,” he said.
Support their strike! Join the picket at the Sorel port or send messages to Emmery Snyder, USW Local 9599, 5000, boulevard des Gradins, Bureau 300, Quebec City, Quebec G2J 1N3.