Who We Are

A Sailors’ Union by Sailors for the Benefit of Sailors

The most important sailors’ union in the country, the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada has been serving unlicensed seafarers since 1938. Better known as the SIU, we represent the majority of unlicensed sailors working aboard vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and on the East and the West Coasts. In addition to vessels operated in Canadian waters, SIU members also have the opportunity to work aboard vessels delivering cargoes internationally.

We are thousands of members strong and growing. We work hard to ensure Canadian seafarers’ jobs are safe, secure and stable. Our voice strongly advocates for fair labour standards for Canadian sailors, the enforcement of Canadian cabotage law, and the enforcement of Canadian labour laws for both Canadian and foreign workers.

Our brotherhood is strong and we are proud of the hard work we do on board and on shore.

 

The SIU Constitution

The Constitution is what we SIU members live by. It outlines the rights, duties and obligations of our members, elected officials and the Union. The Constitution is crucial for understanding how the union works to protect sailors. These rules have been agreed upon by the union and its members for their mutual benefit, advancement and protection. Please ensure you’ve fully read and understand the SIU Constitution.

 

National Shipping Rules

Every member of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada shall work 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 member representatives in the bargaining unit along with 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 the bargaining unit vote on the proposed agreement which becomes effective upon ratification by the members.

 

Training and Upgrading – The Seafarers’ Training Institute

Our Seafarers are renowned for being some of the best-trained and most qualified sailors in the world. The SIU trains its members at the Seafarers’ Training Institute in Maryland, known for its no-nonsense approach to skills development and skills upgrading for its members.

Life aboard ships requires skills and a continuous commitment by sailors and ship officers to ensure safety aboard. We are proud of our strong safety record. Training and upgrading of skills are an important part of collective agreements in effect with the SIU. This means that we cover training and upgrading costs for all of our members. We take safety and training very seriously and our members do too.

 

Protecting members and their families

We know that being a seafarer is hard work for our members, but it is often hard work for family members as well. We’ve taken steps to ensure both our seafarers and their families have access to good benefits. Collective agreements signed with shipping companies include provisions for medical insurance and pension plan coverage. Protecting our seafarers is of the utmost importance to the SIU.