Today, the Seafood Processors of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL) submitted a reconsideration request to the Price Setting Panel for the price of lobster. FFAW-Unifor has responded to the request asking that the Panel reject SPONL’s request on the basis that it does not meet the legislative threshold to support a reconsideration application.
The Urner Barry price formula has been in place for nearly a decade and every year it accurately tracks the changes in the market. It is doing the same this year with prices to harvesters being higher when supply was weak and lower when supply was strong. That is the value of the price to market formula, prices to harvesters track the market.
A price reconsideration can only be heard if SPONL can show that the current price to harvesters is not reflective of the market and currency. SPONL’s reconsideration request does not provide any evidence that this is the case. It has had weeks to prepare this reconsideration request and SPONL’s failure to provide evidence is inexcusable.
At the end of April, SPONL tried to destroy the Urner Barry formula and replace it with a vague receipt-based system that amounted to a massive transfer of value from to the processor from the harvester. In recognition of the COVID-19-related challenges to the lobster market, harvesters already compromised on price this year. Now SPONL are looking to water down the formula even further.
FFAW will fight this reconsideration request with all its resources. We have submitted our reply to the Panel, arguing that the request should be denied. SPONL’s argument is not based on a change in currency or market, it is a request for a do-over on negotiations, which goes against collective bargaining.
If the SPONL request for a reconsideration is accepted by the Panel, there will be a new Panel hearing later this week. We are currently preparing for that, while remaining steadfast in our belief that the SPONL request will be rejected.
We will post updates over the coming days.