A group of concerned citizens ended a four-day protest at Grieg NL’s salmon hatchery development in Marystown’s marine industrial park after finally getting a meeting with the company.
The group wanted to know if residents of the town were receiving a fair share of jobs from work related to the construction of the project.
The company had been tight-lipped about hiring for the project up to that point.
According to Bill Power, the group’s spokesperson, the demonstration started on Monday morning, June 17 but broke off after a few hours at the instruction of the RCMP, both that day and the following day. On Wednesday and Thursday, work was prevented from going ahead at the site, however.
On Tuesday evening, June 18, Marystown council held an impromptu meeting with the disgruntled residents before its regular public meeting. Power told council attempts to get a meeting with Grieg NL had been unsuccessful.
Allan Moulton, who acknowledged he was there to offer support to the group, said rumours of the percentage of workers being hired at the site from outside Marystown were alarming.
What bothered him most though, Moulton said, was that Perry Power, Grieg NL’s human resources manager, was no longer willing to speak to anyone. In the lead up to the project, he was readily available, Moulton claimed.
Coun. Andy Edwards told the group Grieg had been asked to provide the postal codes only for workers on the project so council could get an indication of where they are from. The company had not done so, however.
Coun. Mike Brennan, meanwhile, said Marystown's Sam Synard, who was in St. John’s attending a conference, was trying to facilitate a meeting between Grieg and the group but had also been unsuccessful to that point.
Deputy Mayor Gary Myles said council had heard the same gossip regarding the number of outside hires but had no indication if it was accurate.
“For the most part, we agree with what you’re trying to achieve. What we don’t know is what the situation is right now,” he told them.
Myles suggested, in the past, for work related to the other major industries in the town – whether it be the fish plant or the shipyard when they were in operation or Peter Kiewit’s fabrication facility presently – generally about 50 per cent of the employees were from Marystown.
For a company that is developing such a big project to be ignoring requests for information and meetings is unusual, Moulton said.
“That’s just not the norm and quite frankly I don’t understand the logic of doing it,” he suggested.
Myles said council felt a meeting would be helpful in resolving the issue.
“You’re local guys, you’re skilled, if the jobs are there, you should have a fair crack at them. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that,” Myles said.
During the regular meeting that followed, council passed a motion to request Grieg NL meet with the group, along with a delegation from council, if necessary.
Power told The Southern Gazette on Thursday he received a call at about 3 p.m. that day from Grieg requesting a meeting. He said council also took part and seemed pleased with the company’s responses about hiring.
“Me and Allan (Moulton) put a good many questions to them, too, and we got the answers … that we were looking for,” he said.
Power said he was told the company would be hiring more people from Marystown.
At about 3:50 p.m., trucks blocking entrance to the site were removed, Power said.
“Hopefully, we don’t have to do this again,” he said.
Power said the group was just trying to ensure work for the people of Marystown but also wants to see other areas of the Burin Peninsula benefit, as well.
“We didn’t want to be there in the first place. That’s the last thing we want to do is to try to hang up the project,” he said.
Power said the company and council are now planning to meet on a regular basis to discuss any issues.
A phone message to Perry Power seeking comment was not returned by deadline.