Reliving our past
Jackman, the province’s fisheries minister for the past two years, in Burin Saturday afternoon.
As the workers chanted slogans such as “Don’t lie like Clyde!” and “We want work!” behind him, Allan Moulton, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union at the Marystown plant, asked the premier to level the playing field with the company.
With the company not processing yellowtail at the Marystown plant at the moment, the union wants the provincial government to end an exemption granted to Ocean Choice that allows it to send red fish out of the province unprocessed.
Last week, the FFAW took down a picket line in Bay Roberts that was preventing the departure of one of the company’s vessels following a Supreme Court injunction.
Standing her ground, Mrs. Dunderdale said she was not prepared to stop the exemption, pointing out agreements are in place and people are dependent on that operation for their incomes as well.
The premier told Mr. Moulton she was prepared to meet with the union after the Oct. 11 election but not before.
“We’re not going to be blackmailed into doing something that’s not appropriate.”
Mrs. Dunderdale said she believed the Marystown plant has a future but suggested the solution must work for the employees, company and people of the province.
“We want to deal with the structural issues in the fishery, but everyone’s got to come to the table. The only one that’s been there so far is the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Mr. Moulton said workers had done all they could to make the Marystown operation viable.
“We don’t want to be at this. This is the last thing we wants to be at.”
Referencing the fight to keep the fish plant in Burin open back in the 1980s, a battle for which she was on the front lines at the time, Mrs. Dunderdale said she respected the workers and the difficult position they are in.
“It’s never been an easy industry to earn a living in, and I appreciate that. I do. Look, I’ve lived it all my life. I understand it. So we’ll find a way forward, and we’ll do it together, but we got to do in a sensible way, and we finally got to find a solution that works.”
‘FOUR MORE YEARS’
Once the group, which also included Grand Bank MHA and Human Resources, Labour and Employment Minister Darin King, finally made it inside the Muriel Isaacs Building, it was an entirely different atmosphere.
A room full of enthusiastic supporters offered choruses of “Clyde! Clyde!” and ‘Four more years!”
Mr. Jackman took it all in stride.
“The wonderful thing about democracy is that that stuff can happen.”
Before turning it over to the premier, he told supporters he was doing all he could for the Marystown plant workers and noted he had firmly rebuffed Ocean Choice when the company came to him last March, saying it was looking to close the facility.
Mrs. Dunderdale, who acknowledged family and friends comprised much of the audience, said she was a little emotional.
Like she had done with Mr. King earlier that morning at his headquarters in Grand Bank, she sang the praises of her two colleagues and the jobs they have done in government – both in representing their constituents and with their various cabinet portfolios.
“We work very well together. Between all three of us, we’ve had a smack a just about everything on the Burin Peninsula – social work, education, fisheries, you name it – we’ve been involved in community, and I think we understand that one very well.”
Acknowledging the province is in excellent shape but noting there are still some challenges ahead, the premier asked for the support of those present on Oct. 11.
“Give me these two guys back because I’m going to need them in the next eight years.”
After Burin, the campaign was scheduled to roll into Marystown for several stops, before heading back up the highway for one final pause at the future site of the new health clinic in Placentia West.
During the day, the premier also travelled around the ‘loop’, visiting a number of communities, including Lamaline and St. Lawrence.
Upon arrival for a campaign stop with Burin-Placentia West MHA Clyde Jackman and Grand Bank MHA Darin King in Burin Saturday afternoon, Premier Kathy Dunderdale was confronted by Allan Moulton, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union at the fish plant in Marystown, and dozens of upset out-of-work employees from the facility.