You don't hear that sentence from the FFAW every day, but the union appears to finally be on the ball in terms of sea cucumber price negotiations with the Association of Seafood Producers.
The Navigator magazine.
Read the FFAW's Tuesday evening press release here:
Make no mistake, SEA-NL has been doing our job of holding the union's feet to the fire — running updates and industry overviews/insight since early June, starting with this piece: Sea cucumber: $34/lb in the market, 60¢/lb to fishermen.
FFAW TO-DO LIST
In the short term, the FFAW has asked DFO not to penalize sea cucumber permit holders who may not meet their landing threshhold (a condition of their temporary permits) due to the ongoing price dispute.
SEA-NL wrote about the situation in this piece: Sea cucumber slaves.
The union is also apparently still in talks with ASP, and SEA-NL hopes for a deal soon. The fleet has been tied up since early June, and the latest hold up are new grading protocols for sea cucumber that will reduce the price per pound paid to harvesters. Read about it here.
Plant workers contacted me to say their season is winding down, and they're short six weeks to qualify for EI. They fear that before you know it the winds will pick up, and few boats will be on the water, meaning less work for them.
BUILD-IN CONFLICT OF INTEREST
So the FFAW has one dollar figure in its head in terms of sea cucumber price to be paid to harvesters, versus other numbers bouncing around in the same headspace for hours of work for unionized plant workers?
I shook my head just writing that.
In the long term, the FFAW says it will meet with provincial Fisheries minister Derrick Bragg about the province's panel system of fish price setting, but don't expect changes anytime soon.
The panel was created by law, and any changes will take time given the speed of the provincial government, and its cold shoulder towards the wild commercial fisheries.
HOW DOES THE PANEL WORK?
The Standing Fish Price Setting Panel makes the final decision on the price of fish if the union and processors can't come to an agreement. (The current 70¢/lb was agreed to on July 7th.)
The panel chooses one price or the other (nowhere in between), often with little information to base its decision on (definitely the case with sea cucumbers), and no power to force processors or government officials to hand over market intelligence.
The panel does, however, have the power to institute grading protocols for the sea cucumber fishery, even though the three government appointments aren't experts.
Harvesters do not vote on the final price for any fish species (a,k,a, collective agreement), and have no right to strike under the panel system.
Tie-ups are OK, just no strike pay.
Change is coming.
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