No deal

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Processors want 20-cent discount on price of lobster

Fishermen and seafood processors went back to the negotiating table on the weekend, but couldn’t agree on the price of lobster.

George Joyce, executive director of the Seafood Processers of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL), said the two sides met Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, but couldn’t come to an agreement. The association says its buyers can’t afford the price of lobster, which is tied to the market with a minimum of $3.25 per pound. The union has responded by saying it will form its own co-operative to buy and sell lobster.

“We provided a written proposal to the union committee Saturday evening, asking for a 20-cent discount on the formula in order for buyers to get through the rest of this year,” said Joyce Monday afternoon.

“The union has responded verbally, with about eight cents reduction, and we say, ‘No, we can’t live with that.’”

Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union, said the proces sors’ proposal of a 20-cent discount was “way off base,” which is why the union is proceeding with its plans to set up its own co-operative even as talks were continuing.

“We moved our first couple of truckloads out last week. Another truck is buying today on the west coast, expected to be on the ferry tonight,” he said.

“There’s another one that we’re expecting across from Nova Scotia over to be collecting tomorrow, so we’re up and running now.”

Joyce said the processors have asked the union to take their offer to its membership for a vote.

“With nobody buying lobster today, for example, there are about 500 workers out of work in the lobster industry, because buyers, that is the number of employees they employ when the lobster industry is in full swing.”

Joyce said the union wants to restructure the lobster industry and is using a price dispute to do it, but he said fishermen in smaller areas are being left behind.

“I know that there are a number of areas that have not been serviced by the FFAW in terms of collecting the lobsters. If you’re not close to a main area, a main community or a main town, there are many problems with regard to fishermen trying to sell their lobsters,” he said.

McCurdy disagreed.

“I think SPONL should worry about SPONL and let us worry about FFAW members,” he said.

“If they were as concerned about FFAW members in the first instance, they wouldn’t have fallen down on the job of providing the market information they undertook to provide last year, and we wouldn’t be in a situation where we’ve got a lockout on our hands by buyers.”

McCurdy also said there’s no plans to take the processors’

20-cent proposal to the membership for a vote.

“When we want advice from George, we’ll go looking for it,” he said.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

 Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: FFAW, Allied Workers

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • David
    May 09, 2012 - 13:37

    So funny, so pathetic, so quintessentially Newfoundland.

  • Eric White
    May 01, 2012 - 21:21

    The Union and the Fishers are on the right track, the fish merchants/producers and the Federal Government have made a proper mess of a renewable resource that should be providing a good livelyhood for many people on this island, please stand your ground and form your Co-op, have nothing at all to do with the " Fish Merchants ". It should be noted that the only thing driving the "Fish Producers/Fish Merchants" is having complete control of the fishery and "GREED", the fishers have every right to work and provide for their Family it should not be left up to a few Greedy so called Businessmen to say what the payment is and the method of making a living for each person involved in the NFLD. & LAB. Fishery. It's about time the fish merchants grubby little fingers were taking out of the Fishing Venture, they are part of the problem and not a workable solution. As far as the Federal Government is concerned they have doomed the fishery off our Coast ever since they got Control of it and started issueing Licences (method of control, as to where and when to fish) to the Inshore Fishermen, everything is now setup for the large companies within Canada or abroad to take whatever they can from the Ocean around our Province in a short as possible period time to provide a greater Profit for the Greedy ( fish producers/merchants) few.

    • On the other hand...
      May 03, 2012 - 16:19

      But Eric, many citizens of NL want allow the producers/merchants to have complete control so that they can make more money and pay more taxes to support our health care, infrastructure and so on. Many citizens of NL would like to see the merchants cut the NL fishermen out of the industry if this leads to more taxes paid and in turn better services for all. Furthermore, I argue that, since the percentage of fishery workers is such a small portion of NL citizens, the majority of citizens feel the same way I do. I support greater profits for a few (producers/merchants) if this leads to better services for ALL. Eric, the system you speak of is designed to provide maximum benefit to the fishermen, and little if any benefit to the larger segment of NL citizens who have nothing to do with the fishery. The PEOPLE own the fish (not the fishermen), and the fish should be managed to provide the greatest benefit to the largest amount of people. So, in the interest of the majority, I support the producers/merchants cutting out the fishermen so that they can make more money, because the profits will be taxed and support the tax base of the province as a whole. I support the use of foreign workers in the fishery, and the processing of NL fish in foreign countries simply because as the companies make more money, they will pay more taxes that will support services that we ALL use. I support cutting out the fishermen if it means we ALL get better social services. Bottom line: the fish can and should benefit everyone, not just the fishermen. As for your comment about the federal government, I argue that their decisions which you feel have "doomed the fishery off our Coast ever since they got Control of it and started issuing Licences" is actually policy that is in the interests of the majority. I voted for the Conservatives, and I am happy with their fishery policy. Isn't democracy great? I think it is.

  • Love n Laughter
    May 01, 2012 - 19:48

    byes i have to say...Mr Business man.....you are the essence of ignorant. Newfoundland was BUILT on its fishery and knowledge of those keeping that alive should be repsected not mocked and bashed as if though they were from under some rock...my god by...you are the epitomy of rude... fisherman have and will continute to lead a hard life...my father was in the medical field (WELL EDUCATED) but fishing was his thing..he gave it all up to be able to live and work by the sea.....Not all the fisherman are uneducated...but boy if education gives you the kind of lip you got we should stay away from it.

    • Brett
      May 02, 2012 - 16:55

      At first read I had thought Mr. Business man was actually a tongue in cheek speech, and while part of his statement could be taken as valuable (fish/oil/all commodities should be all newfoundlanders), they are at the same time utter nonsense. NL gets royalties from the oil, and it gets money from the licenses/taxes of the fishermen. No real difference. If there is a power struggle between the processors + the fishermen I don't see why either side should have their hands tied when deal with the other. If the fishermen want to sell their wares on their own - go ahead, if the processors want to purchase a number of boats/figure a way to man and fish them, let them... Right now we have a system that shelters complacency and doesn't allow innovation/competition. It leaves both groups hurt.

    • yeah, say bye to me. brilliant
      May 04, 2012 - 11:55

      yeah, say bye to me and the jobs I create. Say bye to the investment dollars to the communities that need it. I can tell you right now, if the NL minimum wage dropped to around $7/hour, I would create a thousand jobs on Monday. I am creating 1000 jobs on Monday, at the rate of $7/hour, in a right to work state. Canada workers cannot legally compete with these wages, so they never had a chance to have these jobs. Too bad, because I really don't care where the jobs are located or who does the work. I would be happy to create jobs at home in NL, IF AND ONLY IF I could expect the same profit margins. But sadly, the wage laws tell me that I will make less profit here, so I choose to invest elsewhere. So you can say bye, and I will go make money. But where does that leave you and our fellow NL citizens?

  • An Outporter
    May 01, 2012 - 16:00

    My my Businessman, what pious and righteous indignation spilling from the keyboard via through the moral relativism garbage that has ensnared your mind. But alas thinking of your kind, morally speaking, is all too common, crouch in elitism terms, based on 17th century ideas of intelligence and moral supremacy. Masked under the cover of moral relativism, with a healthy dose of elitism. I would hate to be your neighbour, knowing that you judge a person's worth by their education attainment, casting judgement in your last two posts on the fisherman's worth, and their unworthiness of deciding their own fate without the fish merchants having the final say. Thou protest too much, casting out personal spurious inferences of dubious origins to attack, rather than to debate on the merits of co-op models in the fishery, that reduces the fish merchants to buyers, allowing the fish harvesters the power and the ability to sell their fish harvest to the highest bidder. After all, as you have stated so elegantly, "unskilled uneducated fishermen", and yet the ironic part the vessels that the unskilled uneducated fishermen own,, are worth a million plus. A fact that is omitted from your rant, that shows not only the elitism thinking but as well as the thinking of a rogue that despises manual labour of any kind to earned a wage. And the gall to justified the 'fish merchant mentality" of the demand of having the final say to price, while the fish harvesters take all the risks and investment of their own monies, without benefit of having the means to ensure profitability at the end of the fishing season. I join in with Pauline, and the tongue lashing that you richly deserved, but I rather see the smug satisfied smiles wiped off the faces of the fish merchants, and businessmen that think on the basis of the 'fish merchant mentality', when co-op models becomes the new business model in all things fishery. I can't wait for the day, when fishermen and others who make their living in the fishery, will received the respect and dignity that have been denied to them in NL.

  • response to Pauline Matchett from A business man
    May 01, 2012 - 13:23

    Dear Paulette, I get my definition of fishermen as unskilled and uneducated from my mind. It is called freedom, as I am free to form my own opinions and free to express my opinions. Furthermore, the "skills" you state that fishermen have - knowledge of the weather, the tides, the ocean, the instruments on boards needed for all as well the ability to remember the location of your last fishing grounds, the longitude, latitude, number of fathoms, temperatures of the water, all of which is recorded in a fisherman's memory, have you any skill at operating the gear required on a boar, how to repair it, how to clean and store vast numbers of a product, safely and by regulations, how often have you worked sixteen and eighteen hours in the most uncomfortable weather conditions - these are skills taht can be acquired by anyone. They are not skills that are acquired via education....rather they are skills that can be acquired by anyone with some training. So in that context, why would one pay more to a fishermen when they could just hire a new person, pay them less and then train them to do the same work and use the savings to offer cheaper fish to customers. In that context, I hope you see that the skills that you think a fisherman has are really not that special and be acquired by essentially any idiot off the street. I have never spent a day, away from internet, cell phones, satelitte TV, cable, family, friends, comforts of home for up to 120 days at a time - Instead, I chose to go to school and get an education. You say that "people like you make me sick, you speak of an industry you know nothing about and deem yourself as having the right then to insult the very men".....Hate to say it to you, I have the right to say what ever I want, regardless of my lack of experience in the dirty smelly fishery. I really don't care about what fishermen do...I am against tax dollars being used on the fishery and sick of the fishermen controlling the resource that is the property of all citizens. The property of the citizens should be controlled by those who know how to maximize the resources - the merchants - not dirty smelly uneducated fishermen who do the grunt work. The fishery is a business and needs to be managed as such. I cannot wait for the day when the fishermen are replaced by technology. then it will be just the merchants who control the resource and former fishermen will have no say because they are obsolete. I cannot wait for the day when we don't have a fishery.

  • Pauline Matchett
    May 01, 2012 - 12:52

    to "a business man", you sound like the true definition of an unskilled and uneducated person, where the heck do you get off with your defintion of a fisherman as uneducated and unskilled, I challenge you sir to spend a few weeks in a fishing vessel, it might give you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge of the weatehr, the tides, the ocean, the instruments on boards needed for all as well the ability to remember the location of your last fishing grounds, the longitude, latitude, number of fathoms, tempertures of the water, all of which is recorded in a fisherman's memory, have you any skill at operating the gear required on a boar, how to repair it, how to clean and store vast numbers of a product, safely and by regualtions, how often have you worked sixteen and eighteen hours in the most uncomfortable weather conditions, day after day, away from internet, cell phones, satelitte TV, cable, family, friends, comforts of home for up to 120 days at a time, people like you make me sick, you speak of an industry you know nothing about and deem yourself as having the right then to insult the very men who work hard to bring fish products to the table and to the market, I would dearly love to face the likes of you, you would get a tongue lashing on just how much skills and education are used every hour when you are fishing,,how I would enjoy educating you about what a real fisherman does and I KNOW what I am talking about!!

  • a business man
    May 01, 2012 - 11:07

    why are the resources of the entire province being controlled by unskilled uneducated fishermen? Why are they dictating what happens with the fish? they are just dirty smelly fishermen? I support what ever option contributes the greatest to the NL tax base, even it is against the interests of the fishermen. WE all own the fish, the fishermen do not. rather than cut out the processors, we should cut out the fishermen and let the merchants run the fishery like a business and make the most money and pay lots of taxes. I support cutting out the fishermen if it leads to more tax dollars for services like health care. I suggest the merchants find product from other sources and serve their clients without NL lobster. That way, the union will not have any leverage and will have to give in to the demands of the merchants. Frankly as a citizen, I am no comfortable with unskilled uneducated fishermen controlling a resources that can benefit all of us. The merchants need to supply their clients without the union, and break their will to demand more that what the merchants offer.

  • roy
    May 01, 2012 - 07:28

    For once i have to agree with the union and fishers, its time they set up their own co-op and get the best price they can. For to long the fishers have been at the mercy of the merchants. By doing this the fishers can eliminate a couple of sectors of middlemen. The fishers are the ones risking their lives, Paying for the equip etc. It will take time but it will work. The merchants thought they had you, don't let them back in