Resolution No.1: Enforcement of the Fisheries Act Regulations
Whereas, the protection and integrity of our fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador depends on keeping the benefits of inshore fishing licenses in the hands of independent owner-operators; and
Whereas, after decades of political action by FFAW-Unifor and our national counterparts, regulatory changes to the Fisheries Act came into force in April 2021 to specifically protect owner-operator harvesters from the predatory and exploitive control of others, particularly processing companies; and
Whereas, it is the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to enforce these regulations to the full extent of the law;
Be it resolved, that FFAW-Unifor lobby the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as well as Federal Ministers and Senators, to provide meaningful enforcement of the owner-operator regulations, to protect owner-operator harvesters and penalize those who initiate illegal controlling agreements.
Resolution No. 2: A Fairer System for Fish Price Negotiations
Whereas, historically fish harvesters and processors negotiated a minimum price that was augmented by competition for raw material at the wharf between processors, which produced higher than minimum prices for harvesters; and
Whereas, over the past decade, the processing sector has consolidated to a point where 4 companies dominate the processing landscape and work together to keep fish prices down and to minimize competition; and
Whereas, now that the processing sector is heavily concentrated, the minimum prices negotiated by harvesters or set by the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel have become the de facto price since competition at the wharf no longer exists; and
Whereas, the lack of wharf competition now means that the Panel price always has to be correct and that the only mechanism to keep prices in line with the market is a price reconsideration, of which both parties only have one per species; and
Whereas, there currently exists an imbalance in favour of processing companies with respect to the availability of relevant market information;
Be it resolved that FFAW-Unifor will lobby the provincial government to amend the regulations of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act to allow the parties to have at least 2 price reconsiderations for each species; and
Therefore be it resolved that FFAW-Unifor lobby the provincial government to amend the responsibilities of holding a processing license to require processing companies to disclose information on local and national sales, pack out, and the yield achieved during processing.
Therefore be it further resolved that FFAW-Unifor will lobby the provincial government for an independent review of the Fish Price Setting Panel.
Resolution No. 3: End Contract Flipping
Whereas, multi-national corporations in Newfoundland and Labrador are able to utilize short term contracts with sub-contractors with the purpose of being able to quickly terminate, renew, or replace sub-contractors; and
Whereas, when a contract is with a sub-contractor is terminated and flipped to a different service provider, the workers affected do not know if they will be retained, if they must reapply for their jobs, or if they can maintain the benefits of belonging to a union; and
Whereas, contract flipping is a way for employers to reduce unionized labour and reduce wages to increase their profits;
Be it resolved that FFAW-Unifor will lobby the provincial government to introduce legislation to end contract flipping.
Resolution No. 4: Safe Workplaces
Whereas, labour unions have a long and proud history for fighting for health and safety rights for workers; and
Whereas, health and safety legislation includes regulations for employers to maintain a safe workplace, protection against violence, harassment and discrimination, and workers’ rights to a safe workplace; and
Whereas, FFAW-Unifor members in various sectors continue to experience high incident rates while at work without proper conditions provided by the employer to avoid injury; and
Whereas, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered our workplaces and the need for responsive policies to protect workers during public health emergencies; and
Whereas, injured workers should not be asked to survive on compensation that is less than minimum wage;
Be it resolved, FFAW-Unifor lobby the provincial government to emend the Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Act to state that no injured worker can receive compensation pay that is less than the province’s minimum wage when related to the number of hours that the injured employee regularly worked.
Be it further resolved, that FFAW-Unifor develop and deliver education and training to provide members information on their rights to refuse unsafe work, the duty to accommodate, what to do if they have been injured at work, and any other relevant content as needed.
Resolution No.5: Strengthen the Labour Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act
Whereas, the laws and regulations to protect workers in Newfoundland and Labrador in the Labour Relations Act and Labour Standards Act must be responsive to the needs of workers; and
Whereas, there has not been a comprehensive review of the labour standards in the province with public consultation in over 30 years; and
Whereas, amendments to the Labour Relations Act should make it easier for workers to join unions, include a fairer and more enforceable collective bargaining process, a ban on replacement workers, and an effective method for intervention and settlement during prolonged labour disputes;
Be it resolved, that FFAW-Unifor work with other partners in the labour movement to lobby the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to modernize and enact a review of the Labour Relations Act and the Labour Standards Act.
Resolution No. 6: Paid Sick Days
Whereas, there are over 50,000 low-waged workers in Newfoundland & Labrador (NL), many who do essential work and cannot access paid sick days; and
Whereas, the absence of paid sick days jeopardizes public health as workers will go into workplaces while sick; and
Whereas, Newfoundland and Labrador does not currently have legislation that ensures paid sicks days are available to all workers;
Be it resolved, that FFAW-Unifor request to amend the Labour Standards Act to include paid sick days for all workers in the province.
Resolution No.7: Membership and Union Drives
Whereas, FFAW-Unifor has been a beacon of collective organizing for workers from coast to coast to coast for over 50 years; and
Whereas, unions are built on the fundamental principle that we are stronger when we work together and that there is strength in numbers; and
Whereas, unions negotiate contracts that cover wages, benefits, and working conditions and then they make sure employers respect those contracts; and
Be it resolved, that FFAW-Unifor increase organizing efforts to encourage more workers to unionize with FFAW-Unifor throughout the province.
Resolution No. 8: Modernizing Employment Insurance
Whereas, during the pandemic Canada lost nearly three million jobs with many workers forced to rely on the Employment Insurance system which proved incapable of protecting workers; and
Whereas, Employment Insurance must change to allow increased accessibility, flexibility, and the overall expansion of benefits; and
Whereas, Employment Insurance must function to support workers and offer robust and responsive economic stability;
Be it resolved, that FFAW-Unifor work with other stakeholders to lobby the federal government to modernize the Employment Insurance system in Canada to ensure no worker is left behind.
Resolution No. 9: Support for Young Workers and Women
Whereas, there are several pressing issues facing young workers and women in today’s workplaces, including childcare, parental leave, health and safety, and precarious work; and
Whereas, issues facing young workers in Newfoundland and Labrador require increased support from the labour movement to protect the next generation of workers.
Whereas, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on young workers and women throughout Canada, including women and young workers in our union; and
Whereas, programs and services that support women are seeing a surge in gender-based violence and economic problems associated with the pandemic recovery; and
Whereas, 10 times more women than men in Canada has fallen out of the labour force since 2020; and
Whereas, our union is committed to empowering women and young workers in every sector we represent to push for equality in our workplaces and communities;
Be it resolved, FFAW-Unifor develop resources and training that can empower women and young workers in their workplaces to organize committees; and
Be it further resolved, the FFAW-Unifor offer opportunities for young workers and women throughout the province to engage in annual forums or workshops, communication networks, and training.
Resolution No. 10: Change WorkplaceNL Coverage
Whereas, Fish Harvesters are currently only covered by compensation during the fishing season; and
Whereas, a Fish Harvesters work does not end when fishing ends; and
Whereas, Fish Harvesters experience injuries outside of fishing activities such as when working on equipment, vessels, etc;
Be it resolved FFAW-Unifor will push to change WorkplaceNL coverage to ensure Fish Harvesters are covered during all actives involved in fishing not just those while harvesting.