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FFAW-Unifor Meets with Premier Furey and Ministers Bragg & Davis

February 2, 2023

Today, FFAW-Unifor had the opportunity to meet with Premier Andrew Furey in person at the Confederation Building to address pressing concerns of union membership. The meeting provided the opportunity for Greg Pretty to introduce himself as the new union president and identify key priorities needing provincial government intervention or assistance.

Also in attendance with the Premier were Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Derrick Bragg, and Minister of Labour, Bernard Davis, as well as several senior members of their staff.  In attendance representing FFAW-Unifor were Greg Pretty, President, Jason Spingle, Secretary-Treasurer, Tony Doyle, Inshore Vice-President, and Courtney Glode, Communications.

FFAW-Unifor’s Inshore Council held a two-day meeting in St. John’s earlier this week and provided clear direction ahead of today’s meeting with the Premier. The guiding principle being that the provincial government has the means and ability to make important changes that will have lasting implications for coastal Newfoundland and Labrador for generations to come.

Primarily, Pretty highlighted the FFAW’s dismay at last year’s upheaval in the fishery. The refusal of companies to pay Final Offer Selection (FOS) prices and posting of prices under the minimum negotiated is an abhorrent display of arrogance, and something that must be addressed ahead of the 2023 season. Grievances filed in 2022 are still to be dealt with via the labour relations process, and more timely resolutions with harsher penalties on companies that refuse to operate in good faith are required.

Pretty and Spingle also raised the need for provincial support when it comes to mackerel, northern cod and redfish. The Premier was well-versed on the issue of redfish and committed to supporting requests for increases to the total allowable catch for northern cod. Minister Bragg stated his office will be meeting with Minister Joyce Murray in the coming weeks and will highlight these concerns at that time. Premier Furey also agreed to work with federal counterparts to move these items forward.

Finally, Pretty requested that Premier Furey work with MinisterGerry Byrne and the Labour Market Partnerships Program to approve funding for a New Entrants Program, which is a joint proposal from FFAW-Unifor, the Professional Fish Harvester Certification Board (PFHCB), and the NL Fish Harvester Safety Association (NL-FHSA). The program would be focused on recruitment and retention of new entrants into the fishing industry to address important demographic challenges. Part of the funding would support a dedicated recruitment program similar to post-secondary institutions but would be focused on the professionalization pathway for the commercial fishery.

Fish harvesters and plant workers were put in a very difficult situation last year and have made it clear that there cannot be a repeat of 2022. With the strong mandate from the Inshore Council, fish harvesters will not tolerate processors posting prices in 2023.