NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR FISH HARVESTERS CALL FOR BARGAINING TRANSPARENCY
Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters call for bargaining transparency. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union of Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on the provincial government for urgent action to improve transparency in the seafood collective bargaining process.
Under the current collective bargaining system, processors are not required to disclose any information on markets, price, pack-out, or yield. As a result, the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel, which sets most fish prices in the province, is often required to make decisions based on what the Panel itself has called a ‘paucity’ of information on markets for certain species.
Sea cucumber is an emerging fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the latest species to be impacted by a lack of information available to the Panel. Instead of addressing a lack of transparency from processors, the Panel positioned that lack of information against harvesters, setting a low price and a new grading protocol that was not properly negotiated or explained to fish harvesters. FFAW does not support these procedures as drafted and argued strenuously against them at the Panel hearing.
“Ill-informed decisions by the Panel go beyond issues of price per pound,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President. “The schedule should not have been implemented without sufficient collaboration and consultation between harvesters and processors. There is now a grading protocol for sea cucumber that the Panel put in place that is killing the value of the fishery and may force some to stay tied on to the wharf. It is not right.”
The sampling protocols implemented through the schedule are not established best practices, and at the time of selection, processors did not sufficiently explain the sampling process or the way in which water loss would be calculated. In practice since the fishery opened, the schedule and sampling protocols have proven to be extremely problematic and unjust to harvesters.
“We have been seeking a meeting with Minister Bragg of Fisheries and Land Resources, and Minister Davis of the Department of Labour, since early June to discuss increased transparency in the Panel process for collective bargaining. The cost to harvesters is too high, and provincial government needs to be engaged on this”, Sullivan concluded.