Agree­ment be­tween OCI and Grieg Group may ben­e­fit St. Lawrence

Salmon pro­cess­ing would mean full-time, year-round jobs

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY COLIN FAR­RELL WITH FILES FROM CYN­THIA FAR­RELL

“It will be money in ev­ery­body’s pock­ets, for all of us.”

That was the re­ac­tion of St. Lawrence fish plant worker Tammy Stacey on Wed­nes­day to the news that Greig Group and Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional (OCI) had fi­nal­ized an own­er­ship agree­ment.

“We won’t be work­ing sea­sonal any­more – we’ll be work­ing full-time,” said Stacey, who is a vice chair of the union lo­cal of the Fish Food and Al­lied Work­ers (FFAW).

Un­der the agree­ment an­nounced Jan. 16, OCI will process farmed salmon from Grieg NL, in­vest­ing about $25 mil­lion into the lo­cal econ­omy and cre­at­ing full-time pro­cess­ing jobs at the plant.

The OCI plant in St. Lawrence is a multi-species plant, with a heavy re­liance on snow crab to feed its pro­cess­ing lines, and pro­vid­ing sea­sonal work for its em­ploy­ees.

The news was also wel­comed by the Town Coun­cil of St. Lawrence.

Mayor Paul Pike told The South­ern Gazette he ex­pects the agree­ment will re­sult in about 125 year-round jobs.

“Peo­ple of St. Lawrence are very ex­cited with this an­nounce­ment and look for­ward with great an­tic­i­pa­tion to the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from the Grieg Group, the project rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in the econ­omy of ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador.

“The own­ers, man­age­ment and staff of Grieg NL look for­ward to grow­ing and be­com­ing an in­te­gral part of the Pla­cen­tia Bay com­mu­nity, and con­tribut­ing to ex­cit­ing new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and nu­mer­ous long-term, all-year job of­fer­ings in the re­gion,” the re­lease states.

Some of the lo­cal plant work­ers have more than 30 years as sea­sonal em­ploy­ees.

Stacey said now they will have the op­por­tu­nity to have a full-time job in their own com­mu­nity “to come to work ev­ery day and go home ev­ery day.”

She said that isn’t the case for some in the com­mu­nity who work out­side of town or out of prov­ince.

“Lots of peo­ple have to leave the com­mu­nity to go to work, and we’re lucky enough to be able to have this in­dus­try to sup­port all of us.”

Stacey said the union has been in talks with Grieg rep­re­sen­ta­tives about the fa­cil­ity’s po­ten­tial, but noth­ing is set in stone.

“As of right not we don’t know any de­tails on the start date or the re­con­struc­tion of our fish plant.”

How­ever, that doesn’t seem to be hin­der­ing lo­cal op­ti­mism.

Dar­lane Brock­erville, who has worked at the plant for over 25 years, is one of the work­ers who looks for­ward to a new, more mod­ern pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity.

The cur­rent fa­cil­ity is over 30 years old.

“A new, mod­ern fa­cil­ity – we are look­ing for­ward to that and a more com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment to work in,” she said.

Steady, year-round work will also be a great help to plant work­ers.

“We’re go­ing into our re­tire­ment years in the next few years, and ev­ery­body is try­ing to pay off their bills,” said Brock­erville.

“(If) you’re work­ing all year round, you’re mak­ing more money.”

Greig Aqua­cul­ture still has to clear another hur­dle, how­ever, be­fore it can move ahead with set­ting up the salmon farm­ing op­er­a­tion.

The com­pany’s plans in­clude a land-based hatch­ery on 10 hectares of land, as well as a ma­rine-based sys­tem of cages in Pla­cen­tia Bay.

In Novem­ber, the provin­cial Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment in­formed Grieg NL Nurs­eries Ltd. and Grieg NL Sea­farms Ltd. that an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment (EIS) would be re­quired.

De­tails of the pro­posal, and the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment process are avail­able on the gov­ern­ment’s web­site: http://www.mae.gov.nl.ca/en­v_assess­ment/projects/Y2016/1834/

The pub­lic has un­til Feb. 11 to com­ment on the pro­posal.

CYN­THIA FAR­RELL/ SPE­CIAL TO THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Union rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tammy Stacey spoke to re­porters about the own­er­ship agree­ment out­side the OCI plant in St. Lawrence.

CYN­THIA FAR­RELL/ SPE­CIAL TO THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Work­ers from the OCI plant in St. Lawrence and coun­cil mem­bers gath­ered on Wed­nes­day, Jan. 17 to share news of an own­er­ship agree­ment be­tween the plant and Grieg NL. St. Lawrence Mayor Paul Pike said it was a proud day for the town.

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