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Response to ASP Grievance on Crab Tie-Up – What the Decision Means and Next Steps

February 21, 2024

Statement from Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President

February 21, 2024 

The 2023 crab tie-up was an extremely difficult time for the entire province and our members in both fishing and processing. Unfortunately, fish harvesters felt they had to act but outdated legislation makes it illegal for harvesters to strike, as well as illegal for the Union to ‘authorize or declare a cessation of business dealings’ It is this specific language where the arbitrator found FFAW-Unifor liable. 

Instead of helping to resolve the catastrophically low-price in spring of 2023, ASP sat back and watched the fishery fall – only later deciding to take legal action 6 months after the issue was resolved and fishery complete. 

Luckily, the arbitrator recognized that outdated legislation makes it impossible for the FFAW to do its job of representing fish harvesters during a tie-up. The arbitrator acknowledges that if that the price is so low, no harvester has to fish. However, the arbitrator decided that FFAW has to wait for the tie-up to happen before we are allowed to start talking about it. Because the Union relayed publicly what we were hearing from our members before they made the ultimate decision to delay the fishery – we were therefore liable of “declaring” people would not fish. In the future, to comply with legislation, the arbitrator states the Union would have to wait until the problem actually occurs and boats stay tied up before we were to start talking about it.

This is a backwards system where we cannot work on finding solutions to problems until they’ve already started – which is the current legislation that exists for fishing. While there has been a finding that the FFAW ‘declared’ the tie-up, it’s important to note there hasn’t been any determination as of yet if there will be any consequences for that. 

ASP has sought millions of dollars in damages in the grievance it filed, so if they truly expect us to believe that they suffered losses when they were able to get crab for so cheap, they must produce the paperwork to prove it. We look forward to getting all of the financial records from all the crab processors in the province, which ASP will need to provide.

Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President