|SKIPPER'S BLOG: Anger Bubbling in Fortune
The very word “union” implies that everyone is
“united” under one common goal, but that’s not always the case no matter how
deeply rooted the union values and worker beliefs may be.
You are now starting to see evidence of that in
See, Ocean Choice International owns the plant, which
has been hobbling along doing a bit of fish here and there over the last few
years following a period of time when the plant was closed and the freezer unit
destroyed by fire.
OCI has some deepsea fish stocks it wants to fish and
send out of the province pretty much unprocessed. That’s against current
government policy so they have to get a greenlight from the province and the FFAW to do it.
OCI has already shutdown Marystown, its other
groundfish plant on the Burin Peninsula. It has told the province that it will
open the plant in Fortune and provide fulltime work for some of the employees
there, IF the province allows them to ship out fish.
Obviously workers in Fortune want the work, because
they voted in favour of it unanimously.
The province’s fisheries minister, Darin King, actually represents
the district Fortune is in, so, there’s that.
The FFAW, the union that represents the workers in
Fortune, has flatly rejected the notion.
And here’s where things get interesting.
The FFAW is taking serious heat from the town, the area and
the workers for saying no to the plan that OCI has proposed. It's an almost no-win situation.
Workers in Fortune are beside themselves with anger, and that's just for starters.
Just this morning Fortune Mayor Charles Penwell took
to the airwaves at VOCM to accuse the union of shutting down his town and
called on them to develop a counter offer to the OCI proposal immediately.
We know the FFAW is feeling that heat because
President Earle McCurdy is going before the microphones today at lunchtime to
explain the union’s position (more on that here after it happens).
So here’s the thing.
The workers want the deal, for reasons that are
The union as a whole is rejecting the deal, for
reasons they believe are equally obvious, and McCurdy intends to increase that
obviousness today by releasing the union’s written response to the issue, which
was submitted to minister Darin King.
It is the epitome of a house divided against itself.
Some of the past and
present workers in Fortune have long held some underlying disdain for the union, always
feeling they were left playing second banana while the modern, larger facility
in nearby Marystown with it's larger workforce got most of the attention. And now there's growing anger over the belief that their union is directly responsible — even if the FFAW believes the reasons are the correct ones for the industry as a whole — for them not being able to go to work and have a full time job.
There are a lot of interesting factors at play in this
situation, not the least of which is how it will play out between the Fortune
workers and their union.
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