Fish Harvesters Call for Action on Illegal Lockout by Processors
August 10, 2019
ST. JOHN’S, NL - Fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador are calling for action against processing companies that are participating in an illegal lockout by refusing to purchase cod. FFAW-Unifor has submitted a formal request to provincial Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne to use all available legislative and regulatory tools to prevent this lockout from occurring as well as to discourage future action by issuing new processing licenses and opening the cod fishery up to buyers outside of the province.
“This cartel-like behaviour by processing companies sets a dangerous precedent that must be addressed so that these actions cannot be replicated in the future. FFAW-Unifor will pursue all possible remedies to resolve this blatant violation of the Master Collective Agreement. The livelihood of fish harvesters cannot be held hostage by the actions of a few large fish processing companies,” says David Decker, FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer.
The only member of the Association of Seafood Producers that is confirmed to be buying cod this week is the Labrador Shrimp Company, which provides no relief to the thousands of harvesters on the island that planned to start fishing this weekend.
Of particular concern is Icewater Seafoods in Arnold’s Cove, which received nearly $6 million in provincial and federal funding last year for new groundfish equipment only to ship in frozen Russian cod for processing this week while refusing to purchase local product.
“It’s appalling that a company would receive millions in taxpayer dollars for investment in their plant only to turn around to take illegal action that shuts out Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters,” says Decker.
This time of year, northern cod is abundant, the quality is good, and harvesters and plant workers alike deserve to earn a decent living.
In response to the illegal lockout being undertaken by processing companies, FFAW-Unifor members will hold a demonstration in Old Perlican on Monday, August 12 at 11 am. In addition, fish harvesters will be landing their catch in St. John’s on Monday morning and will offer free cod to the public rather than let the product go to waste.
“It seems like processors want a fishery of 50 years ago, where merchants ruled and unilaterally dictated how the fishery was prosecuted. Our members won’t stand for that. We will not go backwards,” says Decker.