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LETTER: Fish union’s delay tactics appalling

Crab pots piled on the wharf at the small boat basin on the south side of St. John's Harbour earlier this week. The start of year's snow crab fishery has been delayed to at least April 20. Glen Whiffen/The Telegram - Saltwire
Crab pots piled on the wharf at the small boat basin on the south side of St. John’s Harbour. — Telegram file photo

It is disgraceful what is happening in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our government declared our food supply essential weeks ago. Those involved had to step up, despite the pandemic, to maintain the food supply. Most industries were ordered to close, a societal lockdown the likes of which we have never witnessed before. The closest comparison is past world wars. The global economy has been thrown into mayhem.

Soon after, Newfoundland and Labrador seafood processors mobilized their people to prepare for COVID-19.

The mission, simply put, was to produce the best practices possible to cope with our collective challenge. They worked for weeks: countless meetings, consultations with people all over the province, country and around the world, to complete a blueprint on what to do to be best prepared to ensure the health and safety of people and our food supply.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union (FFAW) was kept fully informed, through 15-plus Zoom meetings and numerous phone calls over six weeks.


Despite professing safety, it rejected a plan on how the fishery would scale up safely once it started and offered no counter.


But while the companies took action to modify their plants, secure personal protective equipment, implement new operating procedures and orient and train employees for the new “normal,” the FFAW kept saying our workplaces were not safe. It delayed the fishery repeatedly while, week after week, the rest of Atlantic Canada went to work.

Despite professing safety, it rejected a plan on how the fishery would scale up safely once it started and offered no counter. It would get worse.

The FFAW then launched a disgraceful attack on the efforts of our people to build confidence, work together and do what our government has asked. They revolted against fishers from Quebec delivering fish for processing and drove them away. They blocked roads and transport vehicles attempting to do deliveries.

They reverted to true form, sadly. Even COVID-19 did not change the FFAW. Their DNA is what it is. They attempt to stop plant workers from doing what the government is asking of us. They claim all in the name of safety. They claim they know better than anyone on everything — no surprise.

It is senseless, disgraceful and disrespectful.

My parents and grandparents, who lived in another time, when the world was last at war, and during the last depression, must be looking down in shock at what some of us have become.

I am writing this letter to also commend the processing workers of Triton, and the truckers, for your strength of character, for showing us the difference between right and wrong.

And we all owe an apology to the Quebec fishers who should have been welcomed with open arms and grace but were sent away bewildered in our greatest time of need and togetherness.

Again, to the workers of Triton, you are true to yourselves, your community, your province and your country. Your dedication is admirable and my respect for you has become deeper. I never doubted you.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador owe you a great commendation.

Gabe Gregory,
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s


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