Fisheries and Land Resources
June 22, 2017
New Agreement for Fortune Fish Plant Provides Guaranteed Employment for Workers
The Honourable Steve Crocker, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, is dismayed that the President of the FFAW-Unifor, Keith Sullivan, does not support his own local executives’ request to ensure continued employment at the Fortune fish plant, does not understand how Minimum Processing Requirements are granted, and failed to check the facts of a recent agreement with Ocean Choice International (OCI).
The agreement reached with OCI improves on a previous agreement reached in December 2012. The key improvement was an employment guarantee for the workers in exchange for an exemption for yellowtail flounder, with the minister having the ability to cancel the agreement if OCI is in breach. The new agreement recognizes there were challenges with respect to processing the smaller-sized fish and provides the flexibility to ensure OCI’s operations are more economical. This is in exchange for a four-year commitment to operate the Fortune facility for a minimum of 15 weeks per year for the workforce.
The facts of the agreement are:
- An exemption is in place for yellowtail flounder and it has to be offered to local processors prior to export;
- There is no change to exemptions on American Plaice in this new agreement;
- Redfish is not a part of this agreement;
- The Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources has the legislative authority to exempt processors from the Minimum Processing Requirements, not the Premier, as was incorrectly stated in a recent FFAW news release;
- The minister may grant exemptions when it makes sense to do so in cases when it provides optimal benefits to the province. This is why the Provincial Government has reached this agreement;
- It supports increased utilization of the yellowtail resource. The yellowtail flounder resource is considered healthy, however total landings have not approached the Total Allowable Catch in a number of years;
- The only viable option for the yellowtail flounder resource was frozen-at-sea production. Without this agreement, there would be continued challenges with utilizing the resource. In excess of a 100 workers have been involved annually in harvesting yellowtail flounder.
The new agreement was reached with full consensus of the FFAW-Unifor Local 1252 and the Town of Fortune. A letter dated April 25, 2017 from the local clearly requests the Provincial Government reach an agreement with OCI to ensure the continued operation of the Fortune fish plant. The letter was copied to the President of the FFAW-Unifor as well.
"I am shocked and disappointed by the reaction of the President of the FFAW-Unifor, Keith Sullivan, to the agreement reached with OCI given this agreement will ensure employment for FFAW’s own membership in Fortune. Mr. Sullivan should be aware his own union local requested and were in full support of this agreement as he was copied on the letter they sent to me in April. We met with the local union as recently as June 6 and they were fully supportive of this agreement. Mr. Sullivan seems to be out of touch with his own union membership, and it appears he does not want what is in the best interests of Fortune fish plant workers. I cannot comprehend how Mr. Sullivan would speak out against his own members in this way."
Honourable Steve Crocker
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources
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Letter to Minister Crocker from FFAW, Local 1252 dated April 25, 2017 – www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2017/ffa/letter_to_MinisterCrocker_from_FFAWLocal1252_April17.pdf
Fisheries and Land Resources
2017 06 22 3:35 p.m.