June 16, 2020
Yesterday’s announcement from the provincial government to provide financial support for essential workers excludes thousands of people who worked through the worst of the pandemic, including processing workers and other fisheries workers. FFAW-Unifor is calling on the provincial government to expand the eligibility criteria so that thousands of essential workers can qualify.
“The vast majority of plant workers and other fishery workers such as dockside monitors and offloaders did not begin work for the season until Alert Level 4 due to season delays, leaving them ineligible for this income support program. The limited scope of this program means that the financial boost will not be available to many of the families who need it most,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
“These fishery workers are facing reduced work due to a late start to the season and a potential reduction in work this year. They have also been asked to risk their health and safety and that of their families with no increase in compensation while the companies that employ them can take advantage of the financial benefits of government funding and low fish prices,” says Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor Industrial Director.
Since May 20, hundreds of letters have been sent to federal MPs asking for support. Plant workers and union representatives have had discussions with federal MPs with the goal of alleviating the stress and worry from families who make their living in the fishery. To date, the federal government has made no commitment for enhanced employment insurance benefits that would ensure families are not without income throughout the winter as a result of work delays and shortages this year.
“The provincial government needs to have another look at this program that is leaving thousands of families without any help during this pandemic,” concludes Sullivan.
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