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MEDIA RELEASE: FFAW Calls on Companies to Protect Essential Workers

January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

ST. JOHN’S, NL – FFAW-Unifor is calling on seafood processing companies in Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure essential workers are provided with safe workplaces in the face of the highly contagious Omicrom variant.

As the Union representing most shrimp, crab and groundfish processing plants in the province, FFAW-Unifor is calling on all companies to commit to providing all employees with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks. As the new standard for adequate protection against the highly contagious Omicrom variant, N95 masks are the minimum protection needed for workplaces renowned for poor ventilation, shell fish asthma and close working conditions.

“Thousands of processing workers will be returning to work in a few short months, and we need to ensure that these individuals will be protected. We may be two years into this pandemic and while companies act like it’s over, we are in the worst of it right now,” says FFAW-Unifor Industrial Director, Greg Pretty. “We’re receiving pushback and disinterest from large corporations who will try to get away as cheaply as possible although they have received untold dollars in government funding for safety materials. It’s time to step up and make the investment in protecting their workforce.”

Several sources cite N95 masks as the best method of protection against the highly infectious variant, with the masks proven to filter 95% of airborne molecules*. N95 must become the minimum standard of protection for all essential workers – especially a workforce that is predominately over the age of 55 and operates in close proximity for long shifts.

“Many workers have few or zero paid sick days and ensuring they are kept safe at work should be the number one priority for companies. The experts have shown just how quickly the new covid-19 variant is able to spread, so protecting this vulnerable workplace should be a simple commitment for companies,” concludes Pretty.

*Sources: Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Health Canada


For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode, or 709-743-4445.