Speed up MOU process: FFAW, ASP

Dave Bartlett
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Liberals ask about Jackson's Arm plant closure in House

The closure of the shrimp plant in Jackson's Arm has led to the Liberal Opposition and both sides of the fishing industry calling on the province to expedite the ongoing memorandum of understanding (MOU) process.

The MOU was signed last July between the government, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union and the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) to look at ways to restructure and rationize the fishery.

Clyde Jackman

The closure of the shrimp plant in Jackson's Arm has led to the Liberal Opposition and both sides of the fishing industry calling on the province to expedite the ongoing memorandum of understanding (MOU) process.

The MOU was signed last July between the government, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers' (FFAW) union and the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) to look at ways to restructure and rationize the fishery.

In the House of Assembly Tuesday, Liberal MHA Marshall Dean questioned Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman about the closure and its effect on the workers.

"The community is devastated by this news. There are 120 people who are now without work and are fearful for their livelihood and the long-term future of their community," Dean said, suggesting the plant was likely to be permanently shut.

But Jackman said he met with the owner of the plant earlier in the day and there's no indication the closure is for good.

"That's misleading the people," he said to Dean.

Jackman said the company blamed recent shrimp quota cuts by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the high Canadian dollar for the closure of the plant for this current season.

Dean then attacked the glacial movement of the MOU process.

"While the MOU process takes its dead time to unfold, we're fearful that this is the beginning of more plant closures across the province," he said.

Dean said make-work programs are only a short-term solution.

"We appreciate the make-work programs ... but we need more than a beefing up of job creations. We need longer term prospects for these people and for the communities," he continued.

But Jackman said the MOU was struck to find the long term solutions Dean is asking for.

Outside the House, Jackman told reporters he will meet with the workers in the plant.

He also said the current government has never neglected plant workers.

"If you check around the province where plants have permanently closed, or for an interim measure for a season or two, we've stepped up," he said.

In a news release, FFAW president Earle McCurdy said the MOU calls for the development of a Worker Adjustment Program for people adversely affected by fisheries restructuring.

"(But) there has been very little activity related to the MOU in the past three months. We need a meeting of the sub-committee dealing with worker adjustment as soon as possible," he said.

McCurdy also said the current provincial response when fish plants close - a one-time "stamp-up" on a make-work project - is "insulting to people who have spent a lifetime working on the floor of a fish plant."

In a news release of its own, the ASP said the decision to close the Jackson's Arm plant is due to the reality of the current structure of the fishery.

"These are the difficult choices that producers face in the fishery as presently structured," executive director Derek Butler said. "Deciding to not operate plants is not out of want, but of necessity."

Butler said unless a better balance between capacity and supply through rationization is reached, the situation can't improve.

"The closure underscores the need for the industry to expedite the MOU on the fishery signed last year" Butler said.

Jackman acknowledged the MOU process was stalled while the ASP and FFAW were at an impasse over the price of crab earlier this year. But he said he hopes to have an update on the progress that's been made before the July 11 anniversary of the signing of the MOU.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Association of Seafood Producers, Allied Workers, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

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  • garge
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    McCurdy also said the current provincial response when fish plants close - a one-time stamp-up on a make-work project - is insulting to people who have spent a lifetime working on the floor of a fish plant.

    So if these people have spent a lifetime working and they have such a great union then I would assume that they have been paying into a pension or RRSP's set up by their collective bargaining process...if not then why do you have a union. This fishery is nothing more than a glorified EI stamp factory ...work for20 weeks and sit on your rear end and complain for the balence of the year how the government is screwing you over. If its not a good life the world is available to you to find better work......Im kind of sick of the taxpayer always having to bail out the workers when it is the plant owners who are making the millions and the union who is reaping in union dues ...for what?

  • Stop The Racket
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Another great job by the Williams Administration. The popularity just keeps on growing and growing, especially in rural NL.

  • enough already
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Cripes, I'm tired of seeing Earl's mug in the media every other week. Time for people to realize that the fishery can only sustain a finite number of fishermen, plants and plant workers.

    If you are unable to find anymore than a few weeks of work every bloody year, then guess what...you don't really have a job, you have a hoby which pays money.

  • garge
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    McCurdy also said the current provincial response when fish plants close - a one-time stamp-up on a make-work project - is insulting to people who have spent a lifetime working on the floor of a fish plant.

    So if these people have spent a lifetime working and they have such a great union then I would assume that they have been paying into a pension or RRSP's set up by their collective bargaining process...if not then why do you have a union. This fishery is nothing more than a glorified EI stamp factory ...work for20 weeks and sit on your rear end and complain for the balence of the year how the government is screwing you over. If its not a good life the world is available to you to find better work......Im kind of sick of the taxpayer always having to bail out the workers when it is the plant owners who are making the millions and the union who is reaping in union dues ...for what?

  • Stop The Racket
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Another great job by the Williams Administration. The popularity just keeps on growing and growing, especially in rural NL.

  • enough already
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Cripes, I'm tired of seeing Earl's mug in the media every other week. Time for people to realize that the fishery can only sustain a finite number of fishermen, plants and plant workers.

    If you are unable to find anymore than a few weeks of work every bloody year, then guess what...you don't really have a job, you have a hoby which pays money.