UPDATE: Harvesters Meet with Ministers, Systemic Crisisof Corporate Control Must be Addressed
Today, FFAW-Unifor held two meetings with provincial ministers responsible for issues affecting the inshore fishery.
This afternoon, FFAW met with Minister Bernard Davis to reiterate the urgent crisis facing the Northern Peninsula, as well as to impress upon the Minister the systemic issues affecting the Price Setting Panel. Mediation efforts were initiated by Minster Davis, and a meeting between FFAW and ASP with a mediator is expected to take place tomorrow, Thursday, July 21. With regards to the Panel, Minister Davis has initiated a review with an independent arbitrator, with the goal of recommendations for legislative changes being presented to the House of Assembly this fall.
Tonight, shrimp harvesters met with Minister Derek Bragg to impress upon the Minster how they are being held hostage by seafood processing companies. Ensuring processing companies act in good faith for the benefit of the people of our province is entirely in the scope of our provincial government, and urgent action must be taken.
In the most recent example, companies are paying 60% more for the exact same product in other provinces while they refuse to pay a fair price to NL harvesters and leaving plants shuttered. These companies are sending inshore harvesters outside the province rather than buy the product in our province, to process in our province.
Companies like Royal Greenland and Ocean Choice International wield tremendous power in our province, and their influence and control over the inshore fishery is only expanding. As a result, enormous economic opportunity is being stripped from our province. During the meeting, Minister Bragg committed to meeting with Royal Greenland to discuss their egregious actions this year.
In a bid to drive inshore harvesters out of the fishery, companies controlling processing in the province are colluding to undermine the collective bargaining process, leading to the continual erosion of the owner-operator fishery, and threatening the future of coastal economic sustainability.
SHRIMP FISHERY PROCEEDING – WITH CAUTION
As a temporary respite, more fish harvesters on the Northern Peninsula will be proceeding to fish shrimp tomorrow as a result of OCI agreeing to pay harvesters $1.20/lb. While this may allow some enterprises to make it through another season and crew members to achieve enough work for employment insurance, harvesters remain gravely concerned that this price level is unsustainable for the future.
Royal Greenland, 100% owned by the government of Greenland, are still refusing to pay more despite their plant in Quebec paying prices that are 60% higher than their offer to NL harvesters.