We recently had the pleasure and honour of presenting a report about the SIU of Canada's activities at the SIUNA quinquennial convention. The event was of particular importance this year since our brothers at the SIUNA, with whom we are affiliated, are proudly celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Union's foundation.
We took advantage of this opportunity to thank our SIUNA brothers, es- pecially their President, Brother Michael Sacco, for his ongoing support of our Union. The SIUNA has always assisted and supported us in our battles against any attempt to undermine our Union.
The 75th anniversary celebrations were a great success and were highlighted by the presence of a number of Union representatives and several prominent Senators and Representatives from the American Congress.
On pages 8 and 9, you will find a summary of our report as well as some of the resolutions that were adopted and that are very significant to the SIU of Canada.
The SIUNA has also offered us its support in developing policies and meas- ures that help to improve working and living conditions for the SIU of Can- ada's membership. The SIUNA leadership has always contributed to gains made by our Union and the success of our training programs for members.
For these reasons, the SIU of Canada welcomed the opportunity to show its appreciation to our brothers and sisters of the SIUNA.
Congratulations and Happy Anniversary, SIUNA!
The future for the SIU membership looks promising
Now is the time to assess our 2012 shipping season. The majority of our brothers and sisters will enjoy a well-earned rest after a season that was even more successful than the most optimistic predictions. However, a number of our SIU members will continue working aboard vessels on the upper Great Lakes and we extend special thoughts to them.
Ongoing activities for a number of vessels on the Great Lakes indicate that commercial shipping in Canada now extends almost to the entire year. Al- ready, several maritime companies are planning to add vessels with reinforced hulls and sufficient power to deal with ice in the North.
Furthermore, the gradual melting of Arctic sea ice underlines the growing possibilities for shipping in this region throughout most of the year.
Excellent opportunities for SIU members
Throughout the year, SIU members took advantage of opportunities to ac- cept excellent permanent or relief jobs that include good wages and working conditions and life aboard safer and better performing ships.
Long term collective agreements negotiated by experienced negotiators from the SIU with Canada Steamship Lines, Algoma Central Marine, Algoma Tankers, Desgagnés Cargo and Desgagnés Petro guarantee good wages and benefits for members employed by these major companies. Negotiations that led to agreement and ratification by employees of these companies were difficult. Union negotiators faced representatives of companies which have made significant investments over the course of recent months and will con- tinue to invest considerable amounts in the months ahead.
Members of the SIU will be working on top-of-the-line vessels.
The future looks even more promising for all the men and women who have chosen careers in the Canadian maritime industry. Never before, in my thirty-two years with the industry, have I seen the kind of advances we are currently expe- riencing.
Since the Federal Government adopted a tariff relief on importing ships built outside Canada, Canadian maritime companies have decided to purchase new ves- sels and in a number of cases, to upgrade their older ones.
Members of the SIU will be working on board ships that are increasingly out- fitted with state of the art technology. Our brothers and sisters can envisage a prosperous future in a safe environment and work that is more and more special- ized. To achieve this, companies participating in the capitalization of the Seafarers' Training Institute (STI) will offer new courses during the winter months, training courses designed and presented by professional instructors. We strongly encour- age any members who are invited to register for these courses not to miss this opportunity.
Vessels that have been added to the fleet in recent months and many of the other new ships expected to arrive in 2013 and 2014 have state of the art technology. As companies announce the arrival of each vessel, members of the SIU can feel proud of having contributed to the company's success through their excellent and dedicated work.
A new world
The first ship in the Trillium class, the CSL's Baie St-Paul is expected to arrive in Montréal in December. This ship left the Chengxi shipyards in Jiangyin, China on October 5 and is now sailing up the Atlantic after passing through the Panama Ca- nal. The Baie St-Paul is the first of four Trillium vessels to join the Canadian fleet. These four ships will be joined in the coming months by vessels of the Algoma Central Marine's Equinox class.
These ships, along with the vessels purchased by the Groupe Desgagnés for its Cargo and Petro divisions, are outfitted with the most recent technology offered for commercial shipping. They represent new challenges for shipping companies and the sailors who make up the crews. The equipment on board requires quali- fied employees and underlines the importance of solid training.
That is why training courses offered by the Seafarers' Training Institute and par- ticipating companies are extremely important right now and will be even more so in the future for shipping companies and crews. Members of the SIU who make an effort to receive higher training will have better employment opportunities on these ships.
Government support is essential
This change in the Canadian shipping industry requires participation from the provincial and federal governments in the training process. The SIU participates actively in government organizations committed to training our members and we use all our resources so that more training courses are offered and our members can have better opportunities to obtain good jobs and ensure the well being of their families.
We would like to conclude our end of year report by extending our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and safe New Year.