Herder play in Harbour Grace
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.
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.”
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.
A view of the seafood processing plant in Hant’s Harbour.
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.
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.