A hard week in Bay de Verde
Displaced workers finding shifts after fish plant fire
It was a tough start to the week for Bay de Verde residents and others living in nearby communities due to return to work at the Quinlan Brothers fish plant.
Only a few days after boats started offloading crab at the plant for processing, a massive fire burned strong last Monday. Strong winds didn’t help the situation, leaving nothing but twisted steel and rubble.
The company, which has a history in the community stretching back to the 1950s, said it’s committed to rebuilding the plant.
“There has been a great loss of physical assets but all of it can be and will be replaced,” Quinlan Brothers said in a news release. “The company is fully insured and it will rebuild at Bay de Verde as quickly as possible.”
That news surely pleases the ears of Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy, who was busy last week speaking with residents and ensuring all went well during an evacuation during the fire involving most of the town’s 400 residents.
“They have a long history here. They have a long connection with the community, and I don’t think for a moment that Quinlan Brothers Ltd. will turn its back on the people of Bay de Verde,” he told The Compass last week.
Premier Dwight Ball met with officials from Quinlan Brothers Ltd. Wednesday at the company’s office in Bay de Verde. Ball said positions were identified for 350 workers at other plants in Brigus, Old Perlican and Winterton. Those positions were filled from a pool of approximately 500 inside workers — Ball said an additional 200 employees are considered outside workers.
“There is some capacity in the area to actually make sure those workers are kept working, and so (Quinlan Brothers) has done a lot of great work in the last few days in making sure those plans are in place,” said the premier.
“People in the short-term are going to have to adjust to a new normal in terms of their work environment,” suggested Murphy.
CBC reported temporary foreign workers who travelled to Bay de Verde were able to find work elsewhere in Atlantic Canada.
In the case of Winterton, Crocker said the province agreed to remove a cap on crab processing for operator Green Seafood Ltd. This allows the company to take on a night shift with 40-50 workers from the plant in Bay de Verde.
With the company due to process millions of pounds of product this season, it’s been questioned whether the capacity is there for Quinlan Brothers to make arrangements with other processing facilities to handle fish it was planning to purchase from harvesters. Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker, who accompanied Ball on Wednesday, said they’re working on that.
“In our meeting with Quinlan Brothers, they assured us that they will buy every crab that they had planned on buying in the 2016 season — they will buy and process.”
As for the province’s role in helping communities impacted by Monday’s fire at the fish plant, Ball said his government is willing to do what it can to make things easier for those affected. The town has reportedly requested supplemental income for people impacted by the plant fire.
Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Judy Foote has also looked into getting some help for fish plant workers. She spoke with federal Labour Minister Mary Ann Mihychuk, asking her to explore what options might be available to assist them. Foote was scheduled last Friday to visit Bay de Verde, meet with council and visit the Employment Insurance Outreach Centre in Old Perlican.
“People in the short-term are going to have to adjust to a new normal in terms of their work environment.” Mayor Gerard Murphy
Quinlan Brothers officials and representatives from the Town of Bay de Verde have a close look at what remains of the company’s fish plant in the community.
Premier Dwight Ball, far left, enters Quinlan Brothers’ office in Bay de Verde Wednesday joined by, from the left, Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce and Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker.
Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy is optimistic Quinlan Brothers has a future in his town.
A staggering 10 fire departments were involved in looking after the scene of last Monday’s fire in Bay de Verde over a 24-hour period.