February 8, 2021 – FFAW-Unifor launched their Virtual Lobby Week on Monday January 25th to seek commitments from the leaders of each political party on issues of importance to their 15,000 members, their families and coastal communities. Each recommendation presented to Party Leaders were highlighted in a social media campaign and discussed in virtual meetings coordinated with provincial election candidates from the 25th to 29th.
A 2021 Election Questionnaire was sent to three political parties: the Liberal Party, the Progressive Conservative Party, and the New Democratic Party. The Questionnaire Synopsis released today show little commitment from the Liberal and PC parties regarding the important issues facing fish harvesting, processing and labour relations in this province. FFAW summarized the responses to each question under three categories: full commitment (green), not enough information (yellow), and no commitment (red).
“The fishery did not receive the attention and commitment that it needs. As the brightest light in the economy of this province, we had hoped that our political leaders would have a platform focused on improving the inshore fishing economy, which is our rural economy. This did not happen.” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “We appreciate that the three parties made the effort to meet with us during the campaign, though in some instances we were heard but not listened to.”
The issues raised by FFAW would have come at almost zero cost to the provincial government but would have added tens of millions of dollars into the economy on an annual basis. The primary recommendations put forward by the FFAW were:
- Adding a second reconsideration in in collective bargaining to bring more accountability in the fish price setting system. There was no commitment from the PC or Liberal parties;
- Establishing regulations that mirror the federal regulations against corporate control over inshore licenses, which is the biggest threat to the inshore fishery and a significant barrier for new people entering the industry. There was no commitment from the PC or Liberal parties; and
- Establish a $15/hr minimum wage, which has the ability to generate economic growth, reduce inequality, reduce healthcare costs, and can easily be absorbed by the large corporations that currently pay poverty-level wages. There was no commitment from the PC and Liberal parties.
In general, it was only the NDP that committed to moving these issues forward.
“Our members want a government that serves communities and provide opportunities for young people entering the industry, as well as secure wages and safe workplaces. It is disappointing that some political parties have not spoken more directly to these important issues,” says Sullivan. “Our members live in hundreds of communities around our province and, without a doubt, our votes can have a significant impact on the outcome of the election.”
FFAW encourages members to read the 2021 Election Questionnaire Responses, which is now available on their website. 2021 General Election details, including where to vote and COVID-19 precautions, can be found on the Elections NL website: https://www.elections.gov.nl.ca/elections/
For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Langille at (709) 693-8454 or at [email protected]