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FFAW-Unifor Meet With NL PC Caucus to Elevate Harvesting Sector

February 9, 2023

FFAW-Unifor were pleased to receive an invitation to meet with the NL PC Caucus this morning, February 9th, at Confederation Building. The discussion focused on how the province continues to knowingly not exercise its ability and authority to uphold clear violations of the Collective Bargaining Act by the processing sector. Representing FFAW was President Greg Pretty, and Courtney Langille, Government Relations.

The meeting began with Mr. Craig Pardy extending congratulations to Greg Pretty on his Presidency on behalf of Caucus. It was then announced that the PC Party has made a conscious decision to elevate the Newfoundland and Labrador inshore fishery in recognition that the labour disruptions and missed opportunities in 2022 cannot be repeated.

The most contentious and immediate of concerns identified by Pretty is ensuring that the political problems that enabled the imbalances in 2022 are met with political solutions in 2023. The Collective Bargaining Act does not penalty processing companies for violations, for example the decision by Quinlan Brother’s Ltd. to opt out of the final offer selection price and post its own price in 2022. Not only was this blatantly anti-union, it also set a dangerous precedent for others members within ASP to undermine the provincial program. The province continues to lean on arbitration as a mechanism to grieve violations, but this process does not work for the harvesting sector anymore. FFAW continues to pursue multiple grievances from 2022 on behalf of harvesters, some over $100,000, where Newfoundland and Labrador companies are taking advantage of people for profit. The process is ineffective by design, and it is unlikely that these grievances will be resolved before the start of the snow crab fishery in April.

Our province boasts the world’s largest snow crab fishery, and we are 6-weeks away from the start of a new season without a solution, and without the political will to revoke or suspend a processing license if it is being used to steal from harvesters. Millions of dollars continue to be displaced from our province due to government inaction and ongoing shifting of responsibility between the Department of Fisheries and Labour. The review of section 19.1 to 19.15 of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act was a superficial response by provincial government, and does not address how companies continue to skirt the law by not honoring final offer selection and paying minimum price.

The Caucus affirmed that it is the responsibility of government to promote an environment of balance and fairness for all parties, and discussed the problematic nature of an honor system where there has proven to be very little honor. Pretty emphasized that without consequences for violating a provincial program, there is great civil unrest promised for 2023 that provincial government will have to take responsibility for. A provincial processing license is a great privilege, and to whom much is given – much is expected.

Thank you to Craig Pardy and other Honourable members of Caucus for your strong engagement today and commitment to understanding FFAW’s vision for a vibrant and equitable fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.