Herder play in Har­bour Grace

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

The ir­re­press­ible CeeBee Stars, once con­sid­ered an also-ran in se­nior hockey cir­cles this sea­son, will con­tinue to bat­tle for the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy this coming week­end when it hosts the de­fend­ing champs Clarenville Cari­bous at the Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

The two teams were slated to play a pair of games in Clarenville this past week­end (re­sults un­avail­able prior to dead­line), and the se­ries will re­sume with games on Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day (if nec­es­sary) in Har­bour Grace.

The CeeBees en­tered the fi­nals hav­ing won five of the team’s last six games dat­ing back to the reg­u­lar sea­son, in­clud­ing a 4-2 semi­fi­nal se­ries win over the Cataracts.

For more cov­er­age, see story on Page A7, and photo fea­ture on Page A12.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Former em­ploy­ees at the seafood pro­cess­ing plant in Hant’s Har­bour were scram­bling to try and pick up the pieces last week af­ter get­ting word that P. Janes and Sons — a pi­o­neer­ing com­pany in the fish­ery — had sold its as­sets to a com­peti­tor.

The sale to the Cor­ner Brook­based Barry Group will mean the per­ma­nent clo­sure of plants in Hant’s Har­bour, Sal­vage and Jack­son’s Arm.

The news sent shock­waves through­out the Trin­ity South re­gion, where 120-plus peo­ple de­pended on the plant for sea­sonal work.

But amid the sad­ness and shock was a glim­mer of hope, with other com­pa­nies — sev­eral of whom had pre­vi­ously launched ag­gres­sive provincewide re­cruit­ing cam­paigns — giv­ing indi­ca­tions they would wel­come many of those dis­placed in Hant’s Har­bour.

“We have been on the phone all day” to those work­ers, one plant man­ager in the re­gion told The Com­pass last week, ask­ing that he not be named.

The new owner also an­nounced it would con­sider ap­pli­ca­tions from former P. Janes em­ploy­ees, and it was learned late last week that sev­eral dozen Hant’s Har­bour em­ploy­ees had al­ready been of­fered jobs at the Barry plant in Port de Grave, a dis­tance of 74 kilo­me­tres.

The com­pany has of­fered trans­porta­tion, and will ac­com­mo­date the Hant’s Har­bour work­ers on the same shift.

It’s also ex­pected that work­ers will dis­perse to plants in Old Per­li­can, Bay de Verde, and New Har­bour.

“There are jobs out there,” said Hant’s Har­bour res­i­dent and long­time P. Janes and Sons em­ployee He­len Evans. Evans was the union pres­i­dent at the plant, and also serves on the board of the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ union.

She was shocked by news of the sale, but not en­tirely sur­prised.

Ac­tiv­ity at the plant dropped sig­nif­i­cantly last sea­son, and some em­ploy­ees re­ported work­ing as lit­tle as three hours some weeks.

It’s a re­flec­tion of the over­ca­pac­ity in the in­dus­try, stiff com­pe­ti­tion be­tween com­pa­nies for raw ma­te­rial, and much less sec­ondary pro­cess­ing of crab.

“The writ­ing was on the wall for years,” said Evans, not­ing that the is­su­ing of more than a dozen new crab pro­cess­ing li­cences in the mid1990s helped cre­ate the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

“We knew one was go­ing to eat the other up, and that’s what is hap­pen­ing,” she said. “The prod­uct is just not there any­more.”

Com­pany a trail­blazer

FFAW pres­i­dent Earle McCurdy called “quite a blow for those com­mu­ni­ties.”

The ac­qui­si­tion was an­nounced in a March 4 news re­lease. In the re­lease, Barry Group CEO Bill Barry said the pur­chase “pro­vides an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide sta­bil­ity for the Barry Group …”

The re­lease de­scribed the Barry Group as “the largest di­ver­si­fied fish­ing com­pany in At­lantic Canada.”

P. Janes was started in 1929 with a salt­fish pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tion in Hant’s Har­bour, and was the first plant in this province to process crab.

The Hant’s Har­bour com­pany had roughly 700 peo­ple on its pay­roll in the late 70s and 80s, and was con­sid­ered a trail­blazer in the in­dus­try.

Evans said her fa­ther, the late Caleb Tuck, was one of the first fish­er­man to de­liver crab to the plant.

“I can’t say noth­ing bad about them,” Evans said of her former em­ployer. “It just wasn’t there any­more.”

The pres­i­dent of P. Janes, Randy Janes, could not be reached for com­ment, but sources say

it he was “shat­tered” by the de­ci­sion to sell.

P. Janes was the only union­ized fish com­pany in the re­gion, and Evans is hop­ing her work as a union leader will not de­ter po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers from giv­ing her a chance.

“I have no in­ten­tion of go­ing into a work­place and try­ing to start a union,” she said. “I’m look­ing af­ter me right now. I just need a job.”

Fam­ily af­fair

Sev­eral gen­er­a­tions had worked at the Hant’s Har­bour plant, and some em­ploy­ees had been on the com­pany’s pay­roll for more than four decades.

Harry Green was one of those. Be­tween them, Harry and his wife Mar­garet had 74 years of com­bined ser­vice.

The New Mel­bourne cou­ple were still in shock Thurs­day, and were un­sure about what the fu­ture would bring. They just re­cently spent $15,000 to ex­pand their home, and pur­chased a snow­mo­bile.

“We fig­ured we would be here the rest of our lives,” Mar­garet stated. “But this has hit us right in the gut. Now we’re wor­ry­ing about a mort­gage and no job. It’s dev­as­tat­ing.”

Harry said 12 mem­bers of his fam­ily were di­rectly im­pacted by the sale. This is not a unique sit­u­a­tion, he added, since many fam­i­lies de­pended on the plant for a liveli­hood.

Mar­garet en­joyed her years with the com­pany, but de­scribed the late an­nounce­ment as a “slap in the face.”

She wishes the com­pany could have given more warn­ing.

“Your life is turned up­side down,” she said. “Now what are we sup­posed to do? I don’t want to pack up and leave.”

Mean­while, He­len Evans was try­ing her best last week to sound pos­i­tive.

“It’s not the end of the world. One door closes and an­other one opens,” she stated.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A view of the seafood pro­cess­ing plant in Hant’s Har­bour.

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Clarke’s Beach town coun­cil­lor David Moore Jr. con­firmed last week he will not be seek­ing re-elec­tion when mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are held in Septem­ber.

Robert Slaney

Pho­tos by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Harry and Mar­garet Green worked a com­bined 74 years at the seafood pro­cess­ing plant in Hant’s Har­bour. They were dis­placed last week af­ter it was an­nounced the owner, P. Janes and Sons, had sold its as­sets to a com­peti­tor.

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