The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

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The Dieselduck
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The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:00 am

You can see the original blog post on my blog www.dieselduck.blogspot.com

My gut is big, and not necessarily pretty, but its usually accurate when it comes to intuition. I felt that any day now we would have work for our ship, a product tanker, or something drastic would happen. Well, as it turns out, the latter happened.

If you follow this blog, you'll recalled that the ship I sail on was recently been laid up in Montreal, with practically the entire crew laid off, because of an apparent lack of cargo. Well it turns out, there is no shortage of cargo, and certainly no shortage of a government that talks tough about protecting jobs, while actually doing the opposite.

For nearly all of July, the powers that be in the Canadian government, have allowed a foreign owned, flagged, and crewed product tanker to operate between Canadian ports, transporting cargo. Below is letter I sent my shipmates last night, sharing the information and my thoughts...

Dear shipmates…

The Canadian flagged Articulated Tug and Barge Unit (product tanker) William J Moore and McClearys Spirit remain at Section M3 of the Port of Montreal, laid up since June 18, 2012. We are fully classed and approved by Transport Canada and Lloyd’s Register; we have recently passed a Super Major – Shell - vetting inspection. For many years before today, we have carried petroleum products, jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, etc, on the waters of the St Lawrence and the Great Lakes, so what’s up? Why did our crew get laid off? Why is this tanker not working?

You might be interested to know that right now, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is considering a “Fast Track” request by PetroNav in Montreal, to keep a Swiss flagged product tanker trading between Quebec and Montreal, and Quebec and Hamilton / Oakville, to carry Ultramar product out of Levi, near Quebec City. That’s right, you read correctly, we are laid up while a foreign owned and crewed vessel, which pay no Canadian taxes, is carrying Ultramar (Valero) product between Canadian ports.

Apparently there is dire shortage of storage space at the refinery in Levi, which is causing irreparable damage to the economy, which only a foreign ship can alleviate. Not only that, but the ship already had a waiver to operate between Canadian ports, this current request is actually an additional request to trade in Canada. It’s current waiver, which started July 03, 2012, was to expire on the 20th, but guess what, she is currently discharging at Ultramar’s berth (106) in Montreal, and its July 24th .

KSea Canada, the owners of the vessels, through its technical managers, Vships of Montreal, have received the request for a waiver as stipulated by the CTA, (a Canadian ship owner has the right to comment on the waiver request) and had until this afternoon, 5pm, to respond with objections, if any. So far I have not heard of any.

You can find out more about the CTA and the waivers it grants on their website
Here is the first waiver granted for the MCT Stockhorn… looks like it’s the first waiver granted this year to a product tanker in Canada, so woo hoo we’re the first…. of probably many more
Here is the latest waiver request

Cabotage waiver request are nothing new, especially out in the Atlantic region, where the offshore industry routinely flaunts Canadians, but I think this is a pretty scary road to start travelling down allowing this to happen to simple and fundamental ship type, like a tanker.

The ship, the MV MCT Stockhorn is a foreign ship which does not pay Canadian tax, whose had 11 defiencies in less than 4 years under PSC inspections, flying a flag firmly in the Paris MoU’s Grey List… and from a one ship company…. and Valero has a problems with us carrying their cargo(!?!?!) Mega Chemical Tankers is the umbrella corporation, based in Switzerland, but appearing to be of German ownership.

Valero, parent corporation of Ultramar, who has been applying for annual waivers of foreign tankers to operate in Canada for years, has finally gotten its way. They say we are too old, yes, I think so too, but we still meet all requirements set by regulators. If they are truly concern about age or safety, why don’t they offer a decent contract, one that would allow a Canadian ship owner to take the risk on a capital intense endeavour to build a new tanker to service them. Or even better, why don’t they build and operate their own Canadian ship.

I find it hard to believe that a “Fast Track” application, with its short time frame (which would restrict a proper analysis and response to such a request), is really warranted in this situation. The refinery knows how much they produce, and how much they must move, months in advance, as a matter of fact, they probably can plan this years in advance.

With 19 of my shipmates having been laid off, I am not too pleased with this plan; I suspect, the Captains and I will be losing our positions shortly as well. Personally, I sort of saw this “writing on the wall” with the way things have been going, especially when Shell closed its Montreal refinery in late 2010, but it is still shocking. I will probably be force to accept another position that will cut my salary by about 25%.

I can’t help to wonder what ship will be laid up next, maybe Valero, or whomever else, will be emboldened, and start banning “blue hulled ships” - just because, and once again apply for waivers because or “dire storage shortage”. I thought you might like to know….

Martin


Most might say this move of importing foreign flagged vessels into Canadian trade was inevitable with global sense of business; especially with the shortage of Canadian seafarers. Perhaps, but it still does not make it right or acceptable. Visit the blog for all the pictures and working links...
Martin Leduc
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:43 am

The latest waiver has been granted to the MCT Stockhorn (Petronav and Valero) by Canadian authorities… she is allowed to trade in Canada until the 30 of July. So long WJ Moore, McCleary’s Spirit, it’s been fun…. RIP

On the bright side, I get to go home this weekend, see my family.
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby JollyJack » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:11 am

Something strange here Martin, when I check Canadian Registry, I get:

Vessel Listing
There are no records matching your criteria:

Click the Back button to refine your search.


Vessel Name starts with: McClearys Spirit

and:

Vessel Listing
There are no records matching your criteria:

Click the Back button to refine your search.


Vessel Name starts with: William J Moore


From http://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/4/v ... spx?lang=e
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:53 am

try

Official Number
343910
Vessel Name
WILLIAM J. MOORE

and

Official Number
822797
Vessel Name
MCCLEARY'S SPIRIT

TC search feature is bassackwards
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby JollyJack » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:10 pm

I see the situation now, it's a barge, not a tanker. Cabotage is for a tanker, not a barge.

http://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/4/v ... pid=822797

Official Number 822797
Vessel Name MCCLEARY'S SPIRIT
Former Vessel Name LE VENT
IMO Number 8967424
Hull Number-
Year Built 1969
Year Rebuilt 2001
Port of Registry HAMILTON
Registry Date 2001-01-17
Certificate Expires 2014-10-31
Vessel Type BARGE
Gross Tonnage 6888 t
Net Tonnage 4185 t
Construction Type WELDED
Construction Material STEEL
Vessel Length 115.80 m
Vessel Breadth 19.30 m
Vessel Depth 12.25 m
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:07 pm

Its an Articulated Tug and Barge unit (ATB) both tug and barge are mated, a well use technique south of the border, among other places, but of course Transport Canada is unable to class them as such.

The unit is well known in the St Lawrence area as one of the largest, by capacity, product tanker, or yes, tank barge.
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby Big Pete » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:15 pm

Sorry to hear your bad news Martin.
Hope you get a good redundancy package to support your family while you job hunt.
Take heart, their are plenty of jobs out here, as you know there are Canadians working over here in the North Sea and Worldwide with various Foreign companies, Globalisation is a two way street, we have to get out there, in the World wide jobs market, and justify our perceived higher costs by proving our ability to operate ships more safely and more economicals (and more honestly) than the competition. A lot of the problem is the Income Tax and social Security charges that our Governments take from us and our employers. In the UK people on the minimum wage pay 20% income Tax & 12 % National Insurance and employers pay, I think 13% National insturance out of the Gross pay. So it costs UK employers $ 113 to give us $ 68 and the Government takes $ 45.
People from low Tax countries can work for a lower Gross pay, take home more cash and many live in Countries where they can afford huge houses and employ several servants, while most of us have to send our spouses / partners out to work to pay the mortgage.
I know that in the Filipines a Second Enginerr's pay on a British ship is the same as their Prime Ministers Official salary, and at home they have a lifestyle that I could not attain. Captains and Chief Engineers live in the same neighbourhoods as Cabinet Ministers.
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby The Dieselduck » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:49 am

Thanks Pete for the reply, I am not worried about work, but no, there is no severance package. There is plenty of work "luckily", one thing however is that my pay will definitely go down, and yes my wife will eventually have to work outside the home to pay our usury charges.

What I am most surprised about is the lack of response to my various outreach on this issue. It has made me wonder why? Why do people care so little, what I'm I missing?

I am not sad that my boat is not working, at over 40 years old she should be retired. But what I am concerned about is that such a fundamental ship type, a tanker, can be so easily imported into Cabotage trade within Canada. This to me is a trend setter. I've worked very hard to get where I am as a Canadian, I pay exorbitant taxes, much like the ones you mentioned in your post, the one thing I did have is the ability to make more money in our domestic market than deep sea. I would take deep sea any day, newer ships, more professional, but the reality is that we get no tax relief like the UK for seagoing.

With this action, and the lack of response to it from the Owner, the Managers, the Unions, Government, and even the crew itself, it leads me to believe there is nothing here for a decent future as a professional seafarer. I have no choice but to think that moving out of Canada is the best alternative. Why the fuck would I stay here pay these ridiculous taxes and housing costs, and make less money than a store manager at McDonald's (because we now compete with international tonnage pay rates, where they don't pay taxes. It sure would be nice to have a big house in the Philippines, with servants, jazuss that would be nice.

Then the ship owners are all surprise they can't find bodies. Right now, there is a shortage of seafarers, and I believe Canada is on the cusp of accepting STCW license at par. When this happens you will see a total drop in enrolment at the maritime schools because of the onerous BS that we must go through to get a license in Canada. At that point, why just import licenses, just import the whole ship, since the wages will not be attractive to seagoing personnel if you live in Canada anyways. Its not like the owners will be really foreign, its just the ships will be FOC. Any Canadian institutions, from management companies, vetting, class (and by default - regulators) chartering dept will all be moving out of Canada, there will be few satellite offices in Canada, minimally manned, with directions coming from head office, where ever that might be.

I am starting to think this could be good for Canada, go ahead let the flood gates open, flood the Canadian market with FOC vessels into Canadian cabotage. Any Canadian seafarer (whats left) will be well to do to consider moving out of Canada - which should be interesting, because who's going to manned the government fleet, with its pay so bloody low as it is, I guess they will have to import seafarer for those positions as well.

I read in the various pay surveys for this year that ship operators - usually experienced seafarers - have their salary stay the same or increased despite cuts seen in other responsibilities. I think this means that there is a shortage bound to get worst, which will be good for me financially, assuming I can handle staying in this business, long enough to get there. But I wonder if the Burmese crew will be able to progress through the ranks to fill those important operator positions ashore at head office in London, Montreal, Hamburg.

Anyways, its pretty clear nobody gives a shit, so I should take my cues from that. You brought up a good point, indeed we as Canadians, must take advantage of Globalization more seriously, I have been thinking about this for some time and will be focusing more energy towards it for sure.
Martin Leduc
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby Wyatt » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:50 am

Another sad testament to our fearless money floggers in Government. All our Government Beauroctrats care about is how high can their pay be increased and how their pension will be affected. To hell with anyone else. Very sad Martin, very sad. It is obvious to me that the government feels it is in our best interests to purchase more Chinese plastic crap, and screw the rest of the economy in Canada, how has it come to this short sighted vision in Government!!!!!!

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SIU lawsuit win, brings great news to all Canadian seafarers

Postby The Dieselduck » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:00 pm

As you may have heard, (http://www.dieselduck.net/blog/) the Seafarers International Union of Canada (SIU) filed numerous lawsuits against the Federal Government over Cabotage issues in Canada, late last year.

The first results are trickling in, and the SIU has won.

The federal government, the border service in particular, was wrong in allowing foreign seafarers to work on foreign flag ships working in Canada. This is has been a huge bone of contention for me, for many years, especially after the William J Moore, the ship I was working on, was made redundant by a foreign tanker being allowed to work in Canada; 24 shipmates lost their jobs over it.

The use of "Waivers" of the Canada Coasting Trade Act allows a foreign ship (non duty paid ship) to trade in Canada. However the SIU claimed, rightly, that the crew are not part of that waiver.

The one thing that struck me about the routine granting of these waivers, and the allowance of the foreign ship and seafarers, is how little people Canadian seafarers (like you) gave a shit. Really this is your job, literally, the way you feed yourself!

Needless to say, this is a huge decision; it has wide reaching impacts, clear across Canada, and set a extremely important precedents. I have never been a big fan of the SIU, but I am ecstatic to tip my hat to them for initiating and winning this fight. There are many more lawsuits on the docket, but I am sure this precedent is going to reverberate deeply into those cases.

For the love of god, people you need to wake up, this is your livelihood! Pay attention. This is great news.

You in Newfoundland, and its endless offshore O&G vessels, and their foreign crews taking jobs away from you, and the rest of Canada. The tankers in the St Lawrence and Great Lakes trade, the tankers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The cable layers and research ships in BC; the hotel ships in Kitimat. These are all good jobs we have lost over the years; massively eroding the viability of our career choice t be Canadian seafarers, which is a very demanding career choice.

Hopefully this now sets an important precedents. Yes, you may be able to bring in a ship in Canadian trade if none is available, but that does not mean that the work on those ships automatically goes to cheap foreign workers, who are "cheaper" than Canadians, because they pay no Canadian income taxes.

Congrats to the SIU and its team !
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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby JK » Wed Jul 20, 2016 5:51 am

you don't scru with the SIU.....first lesson from CO when I sailed FG

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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby Hypatia » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:33 am

I feel like the issue of Canadian cabotage affects more than just Canadian seafarers. If we don't have Canadian flagged, Canadian crewed vessels working in Canadian waters, how are we supposed to support our claim to sovereignty in the Artic? The industry must be healthy.

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Re: The hammer drops (on Canadian cabotage)

Postby JollyJack » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:41 am

Heads up, STCW 2010 comes into force on 1st Jan 2017. Canada's aim is to be fully compliant with STCW, which standardizes international Certificates of Competency.
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