ST. JOHN’S, June 13, 2017 – FFAW-Unifor has formed a committee of members working in processing plants around the province to address the short and long term challenges facing the sector. Today, that committee met with Minister Steve Crocker to look for support from the provincial government.
Plant workers need immediate support to address the loss of income due to ice conditions. Plant workers were left out of the income bridging program announced by the federal government last week despite being equally impacted by ice conditions.
In the long term, the transition from shellfish to groundfish will put a strain on the sector and requires collaboration with industry and both levels of government.
“The industry is in transition right now, and there’s not enough shellfish to sustain all of our plants much longer. We need immediate support from the government, but we also need to look forward and plan ahead so that we can adapt to the changing industry rather than being left behind,” said committee member Candace Francis from Port aux Choix.
At the meeting, committee members shared the stories of other plant workers who are in a dire situation. Many have been without any income for over two months. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many plant workers may not get enough work this season to qualify for EI. This is a result of ice delays compounded with the decline in crab and shrimp resources resulting in fewer days of work at plants.
“Plant worker engagement is an important step in addressing some of the serious concerns facing the seafood processing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said FFAW-Unifor Secretary Treasurer David Decker. “The fishing industry as a whole is transitioning away from a focus on shellfish and towards groundfish, and plant workers need to be included in managing that process so that these jobs stay in our coastal communities,” added Decker.
Minister Crocker reiterated his support for plant workers and committed to working with FFAW-Unifor and the committee to find short and long-term solutions. The provincial government will be reaching out to its federal counterparts to arrange meetings with the goal of sending a delegation to Ottawa in the next week to meet with the federal government and press for immediate action to be taken.
Plant workers in attendance were Trudy Byrne – St Anthony, Flora Mills – Comfort Cove, Candace Francis – Port aux Choix, Barry Randell – Bonavista.
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