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October 24, 2023
This year has been a difficult one and we’ve had to fight to uphold the rights afforded to fish harvesters under our collective agreements. Below is a summary of the current status of the five outstanding grievances filed by and against our union.
(1) This year, processors unilaterally dropped the 20% tolerance for 3¾ – 4” crab that has been in place for 20 years and is part of our crab agreement. Failure to abide by the 20% tolerance cost individual harvesters thousands of dollars this year – a year when every dollar matters. In June, we filed grievances against crab processors and ASP. The hearing for that grievance is scheduled for February 12th.
(2) Trips limits and scheduling were unfairly and inequitably forced on crab harvesters this season, as processors claimed they could not deal with the amount of product coming ashore. Processors are required under the Master Collective Agreement to notify our union any time it becomes apparent they are unable to handle product due to an oversupply. They are also required to work out with our union an equitable guideline for the handling of fish during a period of oversupply. That did not happen, therefore we filed a grievance against ASP and the parties are currently working on a settlement to this matter.
(3) On June 19th, ASP filed a grievance against our union alleging that the FFAW led and authorized individual fish harvesters to refuse to pursue the 2023 snow crab fishery. In a preliminary decision, an arbitrator has decided that the grievance can be heard, and the hearing is scheduled for January 22nd.
(4) There are two grievances outstanding from 2022. One is related to the failure of processors to abide by the currency provision, as provided in the crab schedule. The second is pertaining to miscalculations of water deductions in sea cucumber and deducting what processors considered ‘undersized’ cucumbers. Countless hours were dedicated to resolving what should have been straight-forward grievances, however a reasonable and fair resolution could not be reached with ASP. Both grievances are proceeding to arbitration with dates soon to be finalized.
We cannot start 2024 price negotiations and the fishing season with unresolved disputes from last season. Decisions on these grievances stand to have significant impacts on fish pricing and must have a timely resolution. President Greg Pretty and Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle have approached The Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister Responsible for Labour, to seek an alternative dispute mechanism that allows fisheries grievances to be resolved in a timely fashion – something that was supported by Premier Furey this spring. More information will be provided when available.