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With expected cuts, plant re-opening looks bleak for Twillingate

Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union rep Jason Spingle came to speak with Notre Dame Seafoods president Jason Eveleigh and plant committee president and vice-president Ray and John Hynes at the plant’s office in Twillingate Feb. 22.
Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union rep Jason Spingle came to speak with Notre Dame Seafoods president Jason Eveleigh and plant committee president and vice-president Ray and John Hynes at the plant’s office in Twillingate Feb. 22. - Kyle Greenham

Discussions held over potential programs with plant and union

TWILLINGATE, NL – The prospect of Notre Dame Seafoods plant reopening this summer is looking bleak.

Continual declines in biomass in both the northern and gulf shrimp populations have people across the province worried about further cuts to a shrimp fishery already devastated by drastic quota cuts the past two years.

A private meeting was held Thursday, Feb. 22 with Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union representative Jason Spingle, Notre Dame Seafoods president Jason Eveleigh, and plant committee president Ray Hynes and vice-president John Hynes at the plant’s office in Twillingate.

The meeting was held to discuss the plant’s future and find solutions for its workers should the plant remains closed.

Spingle says current projections for quota cuts are not promising.

“They’re yet to be announced, but it’s looking like a 15 per cent cut for the gulf and a 16 per cent cut for the north,” said Spingle. “It’s very unlikely that the plant is going to reopen.”

According to Eveleigh, an official announcement regarding the status of the plant is not expected until early April.

After the plant shut down last year, laid-off workers were offered a community enhancement program – 10 weeks of minimum-wage employment and enough hours to qualify for employment insurance.

If the plant remains closed again this year, Spingle says a fish plant closure program would be a likely option to help out these out-of-work plant employees.

“The company will have to make the announcement on the plant’s closure before we could go forward on any program,” Spingle said. “That announcement could activate the plant closure program and give those workers the 14 weeks of work they need.

“Getting any program that would most benefit them – that would be our goal.”

An early retirement program was also discussed, as many of the workers are approaching the age of 65. Spingle says there are issues to be worked out for these potential programs on both the federal and provincial government levels.

As quota announcements for the gulf and northern shrimp are expected in the coming weeks, Spingle hopes to be back in the area for a further discussion when more things are official. Overall, he says the meeting was a very difficult but good exchange.

“I appreciate the opportunity to sit down face to face, particularly when it comes to these difficult issues,” he said.

kyle.greenham@northernpen.ca


 

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