The primary responsibility of ITF inspectors in Canada is to board and inspect ships and to respond to complaints from foreign crew. We enforce bargaining agreements where they exist and try to leverage collective agreements on vessels that are not covered.
Our three ITF inspectors cover the Pacific region, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region and the Atlantic. They are part of a group of 150 inspectors, coordinators and Flag of Convenience contact persons across the world.
The International Transport Workers Federation Secretariat, based in London, is responsible for coordinating strategic activities and the political aspects of the FOC campaign.
This website is administered by Peter Lahay, the ITF’s Vancouver-based Canadian Coordinator.
A brief history of our work in Canada:
In the 1970s, Tommy McGrath, then president of the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway and Transport and General Workers Union (the CBRT, now Local 400 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union), would routinely head for the harbour when foreign seafarers faced abuse or exploitation.
McGrath was a seafarer by trade, sailed as a member of the Canadian Seamen’s Union and helped organize the CSU’s 1949 worldwide strike.
Vancouver soon developed a reputation as a port where crew could count on solid support, and seafarers would often wait to come forward with problems until they arrived. Because of that reputation, the workload increased, and it became impossible for McGrath to lead both Canadian seafarers in his union and represent foreign seafarers in port. At about the same time, the ITF recognized that it required a full-time inspectorate, and inspectors were seconded from key maritime unions in key ports worldwide. Vancouver was among the first 10 ports; its first full-time ITF inspector was Gerry McCullough, who held the position until 1992. Mike James stepped into the job, passing the baton to Peter Lahay a year later. In 2002, Lahay became the ITF’s Canadian coordinator. He continues to carry out inspector’s duties in Vancouver, which remains a strong port for crew representation.
During the same periods of time, if crew found themselves problems in Montreal or on the Great Lakes, they were represented by the seafarers representatives from the CBRT & GW and the Seafarers International Union of Canada. In the mid 1990s, Jim Given was appointed fulltime ITF inspector for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. Given was replaced by Patrice Caron; as of February of 2014, Vince Giannopoulos has assumed responsibilities. In Atlantic Canada, John Parsons of the CBRT & GW was appointed in the mid-1990s, and was replaced by Gerard Bradbury of Unifor in 2004. Gerard has retired; Karl Risser, also of Unifor, now holds the job.
All three of Canada’s inspectors collaborate successfully across union and political lines to ensure that seafarers who find themselves in peril in Canada are taken care of and have their problems resolved.