SIU Profile


A Sailors’ Union by Sailors for the Benefit of Sailors

The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada is affiliated with the Seafarers’ International Union of North America serving unlicensed seafarers since 1938. The most important sailors’ union in Canada, the Seafarers’ International Union, better known as the SIU, represents the majority of unlicensed sailors working aboard vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, on the East Coast and the West Coast. In addition to vessels operated in Canadian waters, SIU members also have the opportunity to work aboard vessels delivering cargoes in the United States, Europe and South America.

The SIU Constitution

The Constitution is the document that describes the rights, duties and obligations of its members, elected officials and the Union. It is an important protection for sailors. The Constitution is a document of rules and regulations that union members have agreed upon for their mutual benefit, advancement and protection.

National Shipping Rules

Every member of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada shall be shipped in accordance with the National Shipping Rules subject to conditions on employment contained in contractual agreements between the Union and employers. The National Shipping Rules shall not be interpreted nor applied so as to discriminate against any member because of race, creed, colour, nationality, sex, ancestry or place of origin.

Collective Agreements

Collective agreements are negotiated by a Negotiating Committee that includes representatives of the members in that bargaining unit and Union officials. Prior to collective bargaining, members are given the opportunity to submit their proposals. Once a tentative agreement is reached by the Negotiating Committee, members in that bargaining unit vote on the proposed agreement which becomes effective upon ratification by the members.

Training and Upgrading – The Seafarers’ Training Institute

The SIU, through the Seafarers’ Training Institute, is renowned for its no-nonsense approach to training and upgrading of its members and, as a result, SIU members have acquired the reputation of being amongst the best-trained and most qualified sailors in the world. Life aboard ships requires skills and a continuous commitment by sailors and ship officers to ensure safety aboard. To achieve these objectives, provisions for training and upgrading of members are an important part of all collective agreements in effect with the SIU.

Safety at Work

The SIU believes well-trained and qualified sailors know how to work safely. At all times, they work in a manner to ensure their safety and the safety of all other personnel aboard. As a result, vessels manned by SIU members have one of the best safety records in the world, resulting in lower insurance costs and reliability of operations for the employers but most importantly, for the protection and well-being of SIU members.

Protecting members and their families

The SIU believes protecting its members and their families is of the utmost importance. Collective agreements signed with Shipping Companies include provisions for Medical Plan and Pension Plan coverage to protect its members and their families.