For immediate release: 7 June 2019
(St. John’s) The Association of Seafood Producers, representing the province’s fish processing sector, is rebuffing calls from the FFAW for the provincial government to introduce more transparency to fish price negotiations.
“The FFAW lament is not about transparency, it’s not about fairness,” says Derek Butler, head of ASP.
“It’s actually about asking the government to put another stick on the ice, to get on the side of the FFAW at the table, to supply the Union with the information that they want to advance their position. That’s not collective bargaining, and it’s not the role of the government, and it’s not the role of the Fish Price Setting Panel. They are supposed to be independent referees and arbitrators.”
“The FFAW wants the government and the Panel to put on a jersey, but that would be wrong,” says Butler.
Butler says harvesters in the province have legislated collective bargaining, legislated arbitration, and the provision of various services from the processing sector, including payroll administration, none of which feature in other fisheries in the country.
“If the conversation were really about transparency,” said Butler, “we’d be asking how much does it cost to pull a pound of fish from the water, where are the crew costs in all this, what’s the value of EI in the fishery versus the landed value, what are our payroll costs, and what does our fishery structure cost when we have to truck fish from hundreds of wharves around the province, and then get ice back to those ports.”
“That’s on top of the fact that Processors are regulated by Workplace NL to pay the assessment premiums for harvesters, worth millions of dollars, when these are supposedly independent small businesses who say they embrace the free market,” says Butler
The transparency the FFAW calls for is, according to Butler, “a one-way street, in the union’s interests, but not the industry’s.”
“When you hear this union call for transparency and fairness, you can rest assured they are not the words as defined in the dictionary.”
Butler says ASP will be vigilant on behalf of its Members and the rest of the processing sector to ensure fairness in collective bargaining, and to keep the government and Panel as independent referees and arbitrators.