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FFAW Discuss NL Snow Crab Crisis with Premier Furey, Ministers Bragg and Davis - Request for Parties to Return to Bargaining Table

April 12, 2023

Today, April 12th, FFAW-Unifor had a series of meetings with the provincial government to address the crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador resulting from the Panel’s 2023 price decision for snow crab at $2.20 per pound. Specifically, FFAW-Unifor has requested for the provincial government to exercise its authority and get both parties back at the table for face-to-face negotiations and further discussions surrounding a possible formula.

Minister Derrick Bragg facilitated an impromptu phone call with Premier Furey this morning, and President Greg Pretty began by stating that it is day-3 with no fishery, and clarified that this is not a strike, but a refusal to fish based on economic feasibility. The scale and scope of a delayed and uncertain snow crab fishery continues to risk hundreds of millions of dollars being removed from the province. As a regulator, the province has a role to play and, though the minimum price is legislated, the decision cannot be final when it will knowingly cause to much hurt and loss to the people of NL.

When asked how the provincial government could help move things forward, Pretty referenced the split decision of the Panel, noting the dissent by Panel member Earle McCurdy. The severity of economic circumstances should give merit to actioning both parties back together to resolve price contentions in a meaningful manner.

It was acknowledged by both the Premier and Minister Bragg that this year would have been a golden opportunity to establish a formula for snow crab, as it provides a start price and shares the risk fairly between parties. Pretty made it clear that FFAW is not looking to pursue a second reconsideration, our Union is looking for a shift in philosophy – and quickly. The Premier acknowledged the anxiety across the sector and agreed to contact ASP and encourage them to come back to the table with the FFAW.

Following the call with the Premier, FFAW then met in person with Minister Bernard Davis, Acting Deputy Minister Tara Kelly, and Assistant Deputy Minister Yvonne Scott. Attending virtually were Minister Bragg, Deputy Minister Jamie Chippett, and Executive Assistant Dana English. President Greg Pretty, Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle, and Courtney Langille, Government Relations, attended on behalf of the FFAW.

Pretty reiterated the same concerns expressed to the Premier, and the need for intervention by provincial government to kickstart the fishery and get both parties back to the table. As a province, we cannot stand by while we lose our position in the world market. Unique times require unique measures and there are rightful expectations that government will do the right thing for the people of our province.

Minister Davis explained that government is pigeonholed by legislation with the Panel being established as the system in place that provides the necessary balance. While the Minister cannot direct any party to return to the bargaining table, he agreed to reach out to ASP as well and encourage their participation. Pretty and Spingle emphasized that there should be latitude in the dissent. FFAW was the only party that followed the instruction of the Panel Chair to make a material change in offers, and the ASP price was decided which demonstrates a clear process issue. Today, there are thousands of individuals who should be on the water, and we must do business better.

The succession of meetings concluded with both the Premier and Minister Davis agreeing to contact ASP and encourage them to return to the table with FFAW for regular bargaining and/or determine the snow crab price formula. FFAW again requested for an in-person meeting with the Premier to ensure that members of the bargaining committee can express their concerns directly.

Of note, Minister Davis acknowledged the outstanding commitment demonstrated by the FFAW snow crab bargaining committee and fleet chairs. Your hard work in these especially challenging recent weeks is recognized.

The Union hopes to hear from the province in short order to move towards a resolution and will update members promptly as soon as information is available.