The primary responsibility of FFAW-Unifor is to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of our members. A big part of that includes improving fish prices.
FFAW-Unifor engages in collective bargaining for most commercial species, including the following:
- Snow Crab
- Northern Cod
- Lobster (formula)
- Atlantic Halibut (formula)
- Sea Cucumber
- Lump Roe (rebate)
The Negotiations Process
A Negotiating Committee is established prior to each round of negotiations for each species. Each committee is generally comprised of fleet chairs to ensure fair representation for all fleets and regions. FFAW staff does due diligence in collecting, assembling, and analyzing market reports, and assists the Committee in developing negotiating strategy.
The Negotiating Committee attempts to come to an agreement through regular, across-the-table negotiations with the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP); however, bargaining efforts often end up before the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel. Both parties submit a final price to the Panel and argue their sides.
Standing Fish Price Setting Panel & Final Officer Selection (FOS) Process
Harvesters gained the right to collectively bargain in 1971 with the passing of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act (FICBA). The process outlined in the Act was severely flawed because it lacked a reliable mechanism to arbitrate fish prices each year.
The need for a Panel was first identified in the 2005 Cashin Report. The necessary legislative changes were passed in the House of Assembly in 2006.
The Standing Fish Price Setting Panel is composed of a government-appointed independent chair, one harvester representative and one processor representative.
Each party submits their final offer and supporting evidence for consideration by the Panel. The Panel must select one of the final offers. This is referred to as Final Offer Selection, or F.O.S.
As of February 2023, each party has the ability to request one price reconsideration per fishing season. To warrant a reconsideration, the party must argue to the Panel that there have been significant changes in market conditions or new information available. The Panel then decides whether it will hear the reconsideration. FFAW-Unifor has been requesting that a second reconsideration be implemented to allow for market fluctuations. We expect this to be implemented in the 2023 season.
Other important changes to FICBA and further refinements to the collective bargaining act are contained in the 2022 Conway Report. You can read more about FICBA here.
All processing companies are mandated to pay the minimum negotiated price as determined through either collective bargaining or the FOS process.
No company is permitted to pay prices below the set minimum. Doing so is a grievable offence.