SIU Update on COVID-19

March 26, 2020

Brothers and Sisters of the SIU Canada,

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced governments, companies, organizations and labour Unions around the world to take unprecedented action to ensure the safety, stability, and health of the global population. We have seen this particular virus spread quickly and unpredictably, with the number of those infected continuing to rise. Our top priority at the SIU is to keep you and your family healthy and financially stable. 

The Canadian maritime industry has been deemed essential to the Canadian economy and while many businesses throughout Canada will now be shut down by order of provincial governments, we will continue to transport goods to the businesses and individuals that rely on us. To this end, the world is now leaning on Seafarers more than ever before. Make no mistake, your Union will continue to make decisions that put your health and safety above all. We know that this time is scary, unpredictable, and intimidating, but we know our Members, along with seafarers around the world, are now being called on to do a job that few others have the toughness, determination, and grit to do. We know our Members will be there to answer the call.

Your Union will continue to stand by you until this virus passes, and we will do everything within our power to keep you and your family healthy. We have been working around the clock with our Companies, Transport Canada and you, our Members, to ensure that you are being provided with the highest standards of health and safety in the world, and that you are financially protected should you get sick at work. Your Union has been able to negotiate wage protections with most companies for those forced into 14-day quarantine, or 14-day self-isolation, which will supplement Government assistance. We were proud to take the lead on this initiative for all Seafarers to make sure you always have a pay cheque, no matter what.

The SIU of Canada has never in our history faced a bigger hurdle than what the COVID-19 virus has put in front of us. We will continue to keep you all updated on the virus, and the actions of the SIU through our social media channels, website and through email, and we encourage you to continue reaching out to us if you need anything. Whether you have questions about how this virus may impact your work, if you’re worried about getting sick, or if you or your family need support, know that your Union is here for you every step of the way, and we are working tirelessly on your behalf.

While this virus continues to spread, you will be called upon to make sacrifices. These may include asking you not to go ashore to prevent exposure to the virus. Crew Changes may be delayed based on restrictions. We are in uncharted waters and the current is changing every hour. We know you are worried about your families at home and we will lend support to them as well. If they have an issue, have them reach out to us and we will do everything in our power to assist.

To our Seafarers who are currently on board internationally, know that your Union is here to support you if you require any assistance, and our global affiliation with the International Transport Workers’ Federation is also there to help, should you need anything.

We would like to remind you to heed the advice of government, our Companies, and the World Health Organization to protect yourself against the virus. Please continue practicing social distancing to the best of your abilities, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and please isolate yourself if you are sick.

I assure you that we will get through this together.


James Given

President, SIU Canada