No end to the bad news
It just keeps getting worse in the fishery, and when news broke earlier this month that Hant’s Harbour-based P. Janes and Sons had sold its assets to the Barry Group, the several hundred people directly impacted by the transaction let out a collective groan — not again!
The deal will mean the closure of plants in Hant’s Harbour, Jackson’s Arm and Salvage. The news hit many like a tonne of frozen fish, and sent many longtime employees into a heartbroken downward spiral of despair and uncertainty.
After watching plant after plant fall throughout the province in recent years, the rapid rationalization of the processing sector finally hit right on the doorstep of these three plants.
In Hant’s Harbour, where the company had been processing seafood for more than eight decades, and the workforce once numbered more than 700, many displaced workers were in a daze. Though production and employment levels had gradually dwindled at the plant, many refused to accept or believe that such a closure might be on the horizon.
In some cases, up to a dozen closely related people worked at the plant. There are numerous examples of a husband-and-wife losing their jobs, with some having committed four decades of their lives to the plant.
But with less and less product to process, it was only a matter of time before some drastic steps were taken by the company, and it was swallowed up by a bigger player in the industry.
The situation is not hopeless, however. As was pointed out in last week’s edition of The Compass, there are job opportunities for Hant’s Harbour workers, most notably in Port de Grave, where the Barry Group owns a plant. But processing plants in South Dildo, New Harbour, Old Perlican and Bay de Verde are also seeking workers.
But it won’t be the same. Instead of working a job just minutes from their homes, it’s now likely that many will board a bus, travel about an hour, work a lengthy shift, and then make the return journey to their homes. Some major adjustments will have to be made, and no one is suggesting it will be easy.
Then again, we’re talking about the Newfoundland fishery. Nothing has ever been easy.
— Terry Roberts