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FFAW Meet With Minister Bragg - Emphasize Penalties Necessary For CA Violations

January 26, 2023

FFAW-Unifor met with Minister Derrick Bragg yesterday, January 25th in follow up to their meeting on January 13th to review the document compiled by FFAW Staff Representatives previously presented to the Minister outlining key concerns expressed by inshore harvesters as we move into 2023 negotiations. Attending with the Minister were Assistant Deputy Minister Lorelei Roberts, and Executive Assistant Dana English. Representing FFAW-Unifor were President Greg Pretty, Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle, Jake Rice for Policy and Fish Price Negotiations, and Courtney Langille of Government Relations.

The concerns to be addressed by the Minister in the document include:

  • The lack of processing capacity and competition for snow crab that led to excessive delays between trips and inability of harvesters to sell landings;
  • Clear collusion and undermining of collective bargaining by certain processors;
  • Companies refusing to pay the selected minimum price for crab and other species;
  • Harvesters provided specific dates to land cod by processing companies in violation of license conditions;
  • Larger processing companies intimidating smaller ones not to buy capelin and thwarting last year’s fishery;
  • Buyers refusing to buy sea cucumber or refusing to buy at minimum price and wrongful reductions for ‘undersize’ product citing false measures from DFO.

The Minister agreed that as the largest snow crab producer in the world right now, the province’s industry cannot have disruptions on any level and solutions have to serve both the harvesting and processing sectors.

FFAW emphasized that it is a privilege for companies to be granted a processing license by the province, and they need to be held accountable for any and all violations of the collective agreement. Violations deliberately undermine the province’s own legislation, and our Union will not stand for companies using their provincial license to ship off our adjacent resources for less than their value and devastate the harvesting sector.

The Minister agreed that anything less than minimum price is a clear violation, and no company should be allowed to disregard a standing agreement. However, the Minister diverted the responsibility of enforcement to the Department of Labour, citing that the Department of Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture does not have the authority to pull a processing license if a company is found in violation. Minister Bragg then said that his Department has 2 responsibilities in connection with the collective agreement:

  • Set dates for fish price setting with ASP and FFAW; and
  • Provide required market information once all parties and panel agree on what is needed.

FFAW requested for the responsibility of each Department to be outlined in the terms and conditions of the collective agreement. While everyone around the table recognized that there needs to be stability, the province’s structure for promoting balance is at risk. Simply put by President Greg Pretty, “The structure as it exists now jeopardizes the integrity of the final offer selection”. The grievance process is drawn out, costly, and broken. Provincial government skirting responsibility and allowing large companies to escape penalty for a high level of civil disobedience only serve to normalize disruptions.

In closing, the Minister offered to facilitate a meeting with ASP and FFAW in February and final offer selection will be included on the agenda. FFAW requested for the Premier and Minister Davis to participate in the meeting as well. Without provincial government being determined to exercise consequences, nothing changes.