A hard week in Bay de Verde

Dis­placed work­ers find­ing shifts af­ter fish plant fire

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

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.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

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.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Bay de Verde Mayor Ger­ard Mur­phy is op­ti­mistic Quin­lan Broth­ers has a fu­ture in his town.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

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.

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