Funding Announcement Welcome News for Province’s Fish Processing Workers
Fish processing workers in our province are facing a financial crisis as a result of dramatic declines in crab and shrimp stocks over the past number of years. The provincial government’s funding announcement this week in support of plant workers is a lifeline to many who may not receive enough work this year.
“As plant workers, we are facing a difficult transition as our environment shifts from a shellfish focus to a groundfish focus. This financial support not only keeps individuals afloat during the winter, but it also gives our industry the time it needs to adapt to change,” explains Doretta Strickland, FFAW-Unifor Industrial Vice President and plant worker at OCI Triton.
Last month, hundreds of plant workers came out in support of fish harvesters to rally against unfair fisheries policies. That support resulted in tangible change when, just days later, the federal government announced a rollover in quota for most areas in 3K. This is just one recent example of what is to be accomplished by working together.
Both plant workers and fish harvesters are expressing their frustration at recent comments made by representatives of FISH-NL, calling into question the provincial government’s decision to provide financial support for plant workers.
“FISH-NL has repeatedly made clear their disdain for plant workers in our province, but we know that we can accomplish much more by working together for the benefit of our coastal communities,” said Keith Sullivan, President of FFAW-Unifor.
“Our rural communities rely on the fishery. When you go into any rural community nine times out of ten a family has connections to both the harvesting and processing side of fishing. This industry is as important to plant workers as it is to fish harvesters and it’s critical that we work together to build a future for everyone. How anyone could deny plant workers a basic income to get them through the winter, should work fall short, is beyond me,” said Rick Kean, 3K fish harvester from Badgers Quay.
The announcement from Provincial Ministers Gerry Byrne and Graham Letto on Monday provides a $2.5 million fund for plant workers in the event of work shortages this fishing season.
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