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FFAW ad campaign focused on corporations and control

Last April members of the FFAW staged a protest at Confedation Building over snow crab prices. This year the union is taking a more subtle approach to lobbying, with a video campaign focused on corporate concentration and controlling agreements.
Last April members of the FFAW staged a protest at Confederation Building over snow crab prices. This year the union is taking a more subtle approach to lobbying, with a video campaign focused on corporate concentration and controlling agreements.

It’s an eye-catching series of videos, featuring rural communities, fishing boats and people at work on the ocean.

The Fish Food and Allied Workers’ (FFAW) union hopes the videos featured on its FFAW/Unifor Facebook page for the next three weeks are compelling enough to catch the attention of the next provincial government and push for change in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry.

The advertising campaign is meant to “highlight the prevalence of corporate concentration and controlling agreements in Newfoundland and Labrador,” the FFAW said in a press release.

The union takes specific aim at the Royal Greenland acquisition of Quin-Sea last year, saying the business deal makes the Greenland-owned company the largest processing company in the province, and gives a foreign government control of the fishery.

Legally, there’s nothing that can be done to reverse that deal, FFAW president Keith Sullivan admits.

However, Sullivan said the government must introduce policies that will reduce the damage.

Sullivan and vice-president Robert Keenan told SaltWire the goal now is to ensure corporate concentration does not impact the ability fish harvesters to get the best possible prices for their catches.

Keenen said, “Our collective-bargaining system was based on the notion of wharf competition.

“We negotiate for minimum prices,” he said, “and that price is then supposed to be augmented at the wharf by competition among processing companies.

He said wharf competition has, essentially, disappeared.

“The price set by the province’s price setting panel is, essentially, the price. There’s no competition after that,” said Keenan.

To ensure fair negotiations, the union wants the next provincial government to create regulations that would force processing companies to disclose information about the sales of their products and share that information with harvesters.

“That’s something the provincial government could do immediately,” said Sullivan.

The videos also touch on the issue of controlling agreements.

Although the federal government passed legislation in December 2020 to outlaw controlling agreements between fishers and processors, the union says the next provincial government can support that law with one of its own.

The FFAW said processing companies should have to provide affidavits annually to the province, declaring they don’t hold controlling agreements.

Processing companies found to be engaged in controlling agreements should have their licences suspended or cancelled, the union says.

“The new government really has to understand the seriousness of the problem and what they can do.”

It remains to be seen whether the union’s campaign will lead to change or will just be another collection of scenic videos.

Web links:

https://www.saltwire.com/business/local-business/ffaw-urges-newfoundland-and-labrador-government-to-halt-sale-of-quinlan-brothers-500502/

https://www.saltwire.com/business/local-business/royal-greenland-owned-company-to-acquire-more-processing-operations-in-nl-with-provinces-approval-499055/

https://www.saltwire.com/business/local-business/new-dfo-laws-aim-to-ensure-fish-harvesters-are-independent-when-taking-loans-from-processors-529410/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook

https://www.saltwire.com/business/local-business/fisheries-what-are-newfoundland-and-labrador-politicians-promising-and-what-can-they-deliver-550580/

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