Plant workers and other fishery workers are calling for federal support to address the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic on the fishing industry. Last week’s federal announcement for fish harvesters notably excluded plant workers and other fishery workers. These workers are facing reduced work due to a late start to the season and a potential reduction in work this year.
The physical, social and economic impact on plant workers in the event of an outbreak at a processing facility would be catastrophic. Plant workers must continue to labour surrounded by this fog of uncertainty and apprehension without any guarantees that they will be protected.
Many plant workers and fishery workers are concerned they will not earn the minimum weeks required for employment insurance, leaving them with lower or no benefits at all throughout the winter months. Some individuals were also unable to return to work due to pre-existing health conditions, such as shellfish asthma, that make them extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. These workers also need to be protected beyond the current four-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The introduction of a longer-term income support safety net for all workers in the fishing industry is critical in order to address the challenges the fishing industry will face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FFAW-Unifor will continue to call on the federal government to take action to protect all fishery workers and ensure families are not without income over the winter months.