Annul the Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement!
Annul the Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement!
• Seafarers Boldly Declare: No Quarter for Neo-Liberal Free Traders!
• What the Workers Had to Say
• CETA Opens the Door to Dismantling the Marine Transport Sector – Interview, Patrice Caron, Executive Vice-President, Seafarers’ International Union of Canada
• European Seafarers’ Solidarity Statement
• U.S. Seagoing Unions’ Solidarity Statement
For Your Information
• CETA Breakdown – Seafarers’ International Union of Canada
Workers’ Forum (Sept. 29) – Seafarers in the hundreds, coming from Thorold, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, held a militant protest on September 26 against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, and to defend cabotage rights (see CETA breakdown below for an explanation of cabotage).
On the same day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper hosted Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The occasion was used by Harper, Van Rompuy and Barroso to declare that the agreement had been finalized and all that remains for it to be implemented is for European member state parliaments to give their stamp of approval.
Joined by dock workers, farmers, postal workers, public employees, representatives of the Council of Canadians, the Quebec Network on Continental Integration, activists from the Marxist-Leninist Party and German anti-CETA activists, the seafarers resolutely declared: “This isn’t over!”
Seafarers arriving from across Quebec and Ontario assembled on Sparks St. outside the offices of Transport Canada, the agency responsible for waterways inside and surrounding Canada.
Before marching to Parliament Hill, James Given, President of the Seafarers’ International Union (SIU) of Canada, set the militant tone for the demonstration.
“CETA is a bad deal for Canada. It’s a bad deal for our industry, and we’re not going to take it anymore! We’re not going to sit back while bureaucrats and politicians dictate how we make our living! We’ve been too quiet for too long. Those days are over. This is the beginning. From here on out, they’re going to hear us, they’re going to listen to us, and they’re going to do what we want them to do!” he said.
Led by bagpipers, with a prominent float in the form of an inflatable gavel representing the ceding of public authority to monopoly right under CETA, the demonstration proceeded north on Sparks St. and east on Wellington Ave. to Parliament Hill. Chants of “No CETA!” and “Stop CETA!” echoed through the streets as the workers marched.
Barricades had been erected obstructing the stairs leading up to Parliament due to the presence of Van Rompuy and Barroso. Assembling in front of the barricades, seafarers and their allies listened intently to SIU Canada President James Given.
“We come to these buildings, and they’ve got the gates up and the doors shut,” he said. “This is our House. Not their House, our House! ‘Democracy’ at work: don’t confront the people that you’re screwing over. Leave people in the dark. Work behind secrecy. No transparency.
“And then they talk about us — they talk about labour. As if we’re just a commodity, one that can be traded at the stroke of a pen. Well we’ve got bad news today: this is our House! And we’re taking it back! This is a beginning, not an end. Don’t anybody think this is the end. This is where we start. Today we’re here in hundreds. Next time thousands. The time after that, tens of thousands. Because the labour movement in this country has finally woken up. You kicked the dog once too often, Mr. Harper, and now it’s payback time.
“We started the Maritime Coalition because of CETA. CETA will destroy the Canadian shipping industry. And make no bones about it, and don’t believe the lies, it will destroy us if it goes through. We’re going to afford this government no quarter, nowhere they can hide. Every time that they’re out on their campaign trails we’ll be out beside them. Every time they make a stop to say how great they are, we’ll be there beside them to tell the truth.
“And the truth is, this deal was not transparent. There is no way this deal can go through until it’s taken to the people. We control this House! Our House! Whose House? Our House! Whose House? Our House!
“We are surrounded by our friends today. Don’t think we’re alone. If you look at what’s happening in the EU, there are big problems for Mr. Harper’s agreement. How many times can they say it’s done, when it’s not done! There’s time! The EU want changes, we want changes! This isn’t over, and it doesn’t matter how many times he says it in the newspaper, this isn’t over! And it won’t be over until the people speak. And the seafarers and the Coalition are speaking today. We’re saying Stop CETA! Stop CETA! Stop CETA! Stop CETA! Stop CETA!
“We have solidarity. One thing maritime has always been good at is a fight. And we got complacent. We got fat. We thought everything was good. Complacency time is over for our industry. We stand up, we fight, and we fight and we fight, and we fight, to the bitter end — until this deal is off the table. And not only that, we want our cabotage laws strengthened, not weakened, strengthened!
“That’s the voice of the people, not the voices behind those locked doors. The ones that cower in the rooms and cut the deals. The ones that sell you out in the last week of a trade agreement, because maybe they get something else on the other end. Hell, who knows — maybe somebody got a free trip to Paris for the weekend. Because that’s all they think we’re worth.
“It’s over. Brothers and sisters, it is over. I have never felt more like fighting in my life. And there’s an old saying, and I’ve used it before: we may not like a fight, but we don’t mind bleeding. That’s where we’re at today.” [Cries of “Stop CETA!” and “Fight for your rights!”]
Given was followed by Pierre-Yves Serinet, Coordinator of the Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC). He said that CETA is an issue for all Canadians. Serinet further rejected the claims of Harper and EU leaders that CETA is a done deal.
“It is not true. EU member states, citizens and social organizations of all countries said that there has to be a public debate on CETA. CETA is going to have a very serious impact on our public services, on our jobs, it is going to raise the costs of drugs by $800 million. Universal access to health care services for all is our right.”
Serinet called on parliamentarians and municipalities in Quebec and Canada to analyze and debate the text of the agreement in order to protect public services.
Katie Ward, Ontario regional representative of the Women’s Advisory Committee of the National Farmers Union spoke about the impact CETA would have on farmers in Canada.
“I’m here on behalf of the National Farmers’ Union to tell you that this is a bad agreement for farmers, and it’s a bad agreement for Canadians who want to eat local food. This is going to mean that Canadian dairy farmers are going to lose four per cent of the domestic cheese market, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize that is pretty much the milk production of the entire province of Nova Scotia.
“CETA is a bad deal for farmers. A farmer who saves their own seeds and is accused of patent infringement can have all of their assets seized before they ever have a day in court, and it’s kind of a hard thing to fight a lawsuit when you can’t pay a lawyer. CETA is a bad deal for Canadians farmers.
“And claims that this is going to increase our access to European markets for beef and for pork are an illusion. We already have a tariff-free quota of 23,000 tons and we can’t even meet that now. So increasing the quota to 40,000 tons isn’t going to do anything for Canadian farmers. This is a bad deal for Canadian farmers. No CETA! No CETA! No CETA!”
Scott Harris of the Council of Canadians and the Trade Justice Network spoke about the heavy costs that neo-liberal free trade with the EU would add to the Canadian health care system. He added that, similar to NAFTA’s Chapter 11 clause, Canadian and European monopolies have secured Investor-State Dispute Settlement in the text of CETA, giving them the ability to sue governments at all levels for any attempt to limit their powers to invest in and privatize public services through CETA.
Denise Gagnon, Director of Department of International Solidarity of Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) spoke about workers’ demands for an open discussion of CETA.
“For over three years, in Quebec and the rest of Canada, we have been demanding that there be talks and negotiations on the free trade agreements. Nothing was done and today they are telling us that this deal has actually been signed! No to CETA! We are not going to let the multinational corporations change our public policies on job development, health care, environmental protection etc. What we see today, people from the maritime industry protesting, is just a beginning because as we learn more about the agreement, more and more workers will join the protest and demand that governments reject this deal,” she said.
A representative of Campact, a German citizen’s organization which sent three representatives to join the seafarer’s protest, announced that more than 383,000 Germans have signed their petition against CETA. He added that this was the most successful petition in the history of the organization.
Marie Clarke Walker, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress, spoke to pledge the support of the organization and its members to the fight against CETA.
A representative of the International Transport Workers’ Federation spoke on the international dimensions of the Canadian and Quebec seafarers’ fight against CETA. He said that by waging their struggle to block CETA and defend cabotage in Canada, the SIU members are defending all seafarers, their industry, and cabotage rights everywhere.
Given closed the rally by reaffirming that no matter what is declared by Harper and EU leaders, CETA is not a “done deal,” and that the cause of seafarers in defending their industry and cabotage rights will not permit governments to act with impunity.
Workers’ Forum reiterates the need for everyone to take a stand for public right and oppose CETA and its attack on the public authority and its defence of monopoly right. Workers’ Forum calls on everyone to step up the work to inform people about the and mobilize them to oppose the dangers of this neo-liberal trade agreement and block its ratification.
All Out to Support the Seafarers’ Fight to Defend their Rights,
the Public Interest and the Rights of All!
The Future Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!
No Quarter for Neo-Liberal Free Traders!
Public Right Yes! Monopoly Right No!
What the Workers Had to Say
Sailors – Seafarers’ International Union (SIU)
CETA is going to affect every Canadian in the seafaring industry, but also in all industries. Steelworkers, rail, everything is going to be affected by this. The thing is that hardly anybody knows anything about it. We got our members to go to their MPs and very few of them had even heard about it before.
I am here for our jobs, for democracy and the environment. Our rivers are going to be flooded with more and more ships and it is going to mess up the ecosystem. If this agreement is really good for us, why are they doing this in secret, behind closed doors? Why don’t they consult the public or at the very least Parliament? Even parliamentarians have not been consulted. What is going on? We are asking: are we living in a democracy or not?
I am an apprentice and I am here to see if there is a future for me in this trade. It is bad that we have to come to Parliament to learn what is going on and try to have our say.
CETA is a breach of our cabotage laws that have been there for the last 50 years and on the working conditions that we have been fighting for over the last 50 years. The situation also shows a lack of communication, that those in government can eliminate rights that have been acquired over these 50 years without even talking to the people affected. We had to come here and demonstrate to at least have a say in these matters. We have the right to have our say, these are our jobs.
It is an attack on democracy. Workers are just commodities for these multinational corporations. There is no respect for labour. Look at what they did with the Chair of the Caisse de dépôt in Québec who lost $40 billion on the stock markets in 2008. They gave him a promotion, they gave him an executive job at Power Corporation with a huge bonus. They don’t even talk to us.
Dockers – International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Canadian Union of Public Employees
I am from Trois-Rivières in Québec and we are very worried that if CETA is ratified, the maritime companies are going to replace us with underpaid foreign workers to make more profits. If they can do it to the sailors, they can do it to us.
We are here today not only for the sailors but for everybody. Everything is under attack with CETA — the maritime industry, pensions, public services. It is good that we created the Maritime Coalition — all the maritime workers are in it together. We are all under attack, we have to stick together and contribute to this struggle the best we can.
We are here today with the sailors because our specific trade union affiliation is not what matters anymore. We are all in this together. It is only if we stick together that we can win. If they are able to get rid of their sailors they are going to try to do the same to us and anyone else they can get their hands on.
Public Sector Workers
We came from Toronto to show support and solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the SIU. One good job affects all the rest of us. We have to be together. CETA is also an attack on public services and public sector workers. We are being blamed for everything. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the city workers in Quebec for defending their pensions. That is straightforward stealing going on there.
CETA is also a big attack on public services. They want to privatize and reduce public services. The services are also going to cost the public more under CETA.
CETA opens the door to dismantling the marine transport sector
The Marxist-Leninist: If the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA) passes, what changes is it going to bring about in the Canadian maritime transport sector and the working conditions of the workers?
Patrice Caron: Currently, under the Canadian Coasting Trade Act, when goods are transported on Canadian waters, it has to be done with Canadian ships, Canadian crews and under Canadian conditions. CETA is going to allow ships registered under European Union flags open access to trade in Canadian waters without any restrictions on the nationality of the crew, wages and working conditions. That includes European companies using ships with flags of convenience where workers have very poor working conditions, much inferior to those of our sailors. There is no way Canadian companies will be able to compete with these companies unless they drastically reduce our working conditions.
From our perspective, this would mean the death of the sector in Canada.
There are three specific areas of our work mentioned in the agreement that are now going to be open to European vessels: the repositioning of empty containers between ports in Canada, the provision of feeder services for cargo between the Ports of Halifax and Montreal when it is part of an international leg, and the commercial dredging services. For us it is a breach of our cabotage laws, it is a opening a door to the dismantling of the sector.
The communities are going to suffer. I have in mind the Burnt Islands community in Newfoundland where close to 80 per cent who live there make their living by sailing on the Great Lakes. For them, they are going to suffer a second crisis – first their fishing industry was dismantled and now this one.
TML: Do you see CETA as another step by the Harper government toward deregulation of the maritime transport sector?
PC: It could very well be. Presumably Harper is using this to gain some advantage but we don’t see anything that his government got in return. The government doesn’t want to tell us anything about it. We went to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, who said she has not read the agreement, that ministers can’t read everything. Don’t worry and just trust the Harper government, she said. We can’t get any information about what the Harper government has in mind.
But we know that under CETA companies can sue governments that have policies that regulate the industry.
At the moment, there is a growing shortage of workers in the industry. There are not that many people that apply to become sailors. We’ve asked for training programs and assistance in attracting workers to the trade, but the government is not interested. It would gladly starve the sector of workers and bring in foreign workers with the worse working conditions. Our sailors are very well-trained in how to operate safely in Canadian waters. They know these waters very well. They are careful with the environment. Why would you want to get rid of them?
TML: How do see your work in the coming period to fight CETA?
PC: There is the demonstration in Ottawa today, that is very important. Also, right after we made our investigation into what CETA entails — done in cooperation with the SIU across North America — we formed the Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition that has many unions in it. This is a strong coalition. We are going to plan more actions for the coming period.
(Translated from original French.)
European seafarers’ solidarity atatement
Posted below is a statement of solidarity from the European seafarers’ trade unions affiliated with the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).
In solidarity with our fellow maritime professionals in Canada we would also like to express our concern at the developments within the EU/ Canada CETA negotiations, which, according to the last version recently leaked through the media, include a number of provisions which risk to jeopardise jobs and regulations on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to our opposition to the creation of the ISDS or “regulatory cooperation” mechanisms, which would seriously limit national governments sovereignty and capacity to decide on their national development strategies and policies, and to the ban of a number of existing measures aimed at ensuring environmental and social goals, we reject the inclusion in the Treaty of a specific chapter on International Maritime Transport Services which would allow the free movement of EU registered vessels or EU beneficially owned flag of convenience vessels between Canadian ports without any restrictions on nationality of the crew nor the level of wages and working conditions. We understand the current proposal includes:
- The repositioning of empty containers between ports in Canada, on a non-revenue basis by using vessels of any registry;
- Provision of feeder services for cargo between the Ports of Halifax and Montreal on board EU registered vessels – both bulk and containerized cargo for continuous service using vessels on EU first registries; and, containerized on a single voyage where it is part of an international leg using vessels on EU first or second registries; and
- Commercial dredging services, contracted by private entities using vessels of any registry. Additionally, for federally-procured dredging contracts, EU enterprises, using EU-registered (and built/modified) vessels, will be permitted to bid on contracts exceeding the procurement thresholds for construction services. These thresholds are the same as those currently bound in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement (C$7.8 million).
As we made clear to the European Commission in respect of the TTIP discussions [the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and U.S. — WF Ed. Note], the ETF does not support the opening up of domestic cabotage arrangements in North America whether that be the Jones Act or the Canadian equivalent. In fact the ETF position is that we need European lawmakers to look seriously at providing similar measures in Europe to protect our dwindling maritime skills base and in order to ensure that the hugely important EU maritime services cluster continues to thrive and have a ready supply of trained maritime professionals (officers and ratings) upon which it depends. Without European seafarers there can be no European maritime cluster. Likewise in the USA and Canada it is difficult to comprehend how the domestic shipping industry can survive if the measures currently being proposed are implemented.
If there is anything further we can do to assist you to resist these proposals please do not hesitate to ask, as both the ITF [International Transport Workers’ Federation] and ETF Secretariats stand ready to take any solidarity action that you will deem necessary.
U.S. seagoing unions’ solidarity statement
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 Actindispensable 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
1. The GTS Katie incident refers to a series of events in the summer of 2000, in which the Department of National Defence had contracted out the transport of military assets related to Canada’s Operation Kinetic, a “peacekeeping” force deployed to Kosovo and Macedonia following the NATO bombing and invasion of Yugoslavia in 1999. The job was contracted to SDV Logistics, which subcontracted the job to Andromeda Navigation Co. of Montreal, which in turn chartered the St Vincent-flagged ship GTS Katie to move the cargo. The GTS Katie was owned by Annapolis, Maryland-based Third Ocean Marine Navigation Company. A series of financial disputes arose between the contractors and Third Ocean eventually ordered the ship’s captain not to enter Canadian waters. A diplomatic note was sent to the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines where the ship was registered, which authorized Canada to board the vessel. The ship was boarded by 14 Canadian sailors in a helicopter-borne assault in an action known as Operation Megaphone.
The reason why the Canadian Navy contracted the GTS Katie — and routinely contracts civilian cargo ships — is because it has no sea transport capability. In 2010, shipbuilding was identified as a key procurement priority by the Canadian Forces, outlined in its Canada First Defence Strategy. (Wikipedia)
For Your Information
What is CETA? And what are its effects on Canada’s maritime industry?
The Canadian-European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is the most ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement ever agreed by either Party, encompassing the full range of factors that can completely obliterate the Canadian Maritime Industry, and subsequently, the entire logistic chain, including road, rail, and air. While some aspects of CETA may have positive features for Canada, there are major downfalls for the Canadian Maritime Industry which cannot be ignored.
CETA allows for greater access to the EU’s market; however, the Government of Canada has jeopardized far too much. This agreement is no way balanced and will halt the success and future growth of Canadian’s Merchant Marine and the communities that have long depended on it.
CETA’s long term effects will change the supply chain management, logistics and face of Canadian ports. Canadian seafarers are proud and patriotic; they respect Canada and ensure that our coastal waters’ fragile ecosystem is safely transited, respected and protected. Canadian Seafarers are the front line in Canada’s security on the waterways aiding our National Security.
What CETA outlines
With respect to maritime services in particular, CETA will allow EU entities or an enterprise outside the EU (that is owned or controlled by EU nationals using EU-registered vessels) to perform the following activities:
- The repositioning of empty containers between ports in Canada, on a non-revenue basis by using vessels of any registry;
- Provision of feeder services for cargo between the Ports of Halifax and Montreal onboard EU registered vessels — both bulk (liquid bulk) and containerized cargo for continuous service using vessels on EU first registries; and, containerized on a single voyage where it is part of an international leg using vessels on EU first or second registries; and
- Commercial dredging services contracted by private entities using vessels of any registry. Additionally, for federally-procured dredging contracts, EU enterprises, using EU-registered (and built/modified) vessels, will be permitted to bid on contracts exceeding the procurement thresholds for construction services. These thresholds are the same as those currently bound in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement (C$7.8 million).
What Canada stands to lose
The Battle of the Atlantic was won by the courage, fortitude and the determination of the Canadian Merchant Navy. By supporting a strong commercial base of Canadian seafarers and vessels this enables the flow of domestic waterborne commerce. To be dependent on foreign carriers will weaken Canada’s economy and put our supply chain at risk, as they have no roots within our Country. Canadian Seafarers contribute over $100 million back to the economy in tax dollars, they contribute over $500 million to local business and services in their communities. On the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Waterway, marine transportation has a $36 billion annual economic impact.
What is CABOTAGE?
Maritime cabotage, or coasting trade as it is referred to in Canada, may generally be defined as the movement of goods or passengers between two ports or places within the same State. While in Canada the definition has been expanded to include certain other related activities, the terms cabotage and coasting trade are used interchangeably and refer to the domestic movements of cargo and passengers.
Restriction of access to cabotage trades is a protection measure that has traditionally been a policy choice of many maritime States, both developed and developing. Its aim is to reserve to national flag vessels those activities that involve domestic movements of goods and passengers. More recently this aim has been expanded in certain instances to include commercial activities such as non-renewable resource exploration and exploitation. In Canada, only ships that are Canadian registered and on which all applicable duties have been paid, have unrestricted access to engage in those activities that fall under the coasting trade ‘umbrella.’
What can you do?
We can stop this sell-out from our government… We need to speak up, and we need to stand up!
Call and/or write your local Member of Parliament and tell them that Canada needs a strong Maritime Industry.
The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada can you supply you with a sample letter. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition
Delivering for Canada: The Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition was initiated by the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada. It was formed in response to the detrimental effects that the Canadian-European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) will have on the Canadian maritime industry and the rest of the logistic chain. This coalition includes leaders from the following Unions from Canada and around the globe:
AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department
Alliance du St-Laurent
BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Maritime Workers’ Council
Canadian Merchant Service Guild
Canadian Union of Public Employees-Dockers
European Transport Workers’ Federation
International Association of Machinists
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Seaway Task Force
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
International Longshoremen’s Association
International Transport Workers’ Federation
Maritime Union of Australia
Seafarers’ International Union of Canada
Seafarers’ International Union of North America
Weeks Marine Inc.-McNally Corp.
(Photos: TML, SIU Canada, CUPE/P. Doyle)