More than 200 people accepted Unifor's invitation last Sunday to participate in a party in Grande-Rivière, Gaspésie. The festive event was an opportunity "to explain what we are doing in the region," said Renaud Gagné, Unifor’s Quebec director.
For more than two weeks now, teams of members from all regions of Quebec have demonstrated in the port of Grande-Rivière and a picket line has been set up near the crustaceans plant Crustacés de Gaspé. This plant was not reopened for the 2019 season as we were in the process of negotiating the first collective agreement.
Unifor deplores the conditions of work in this industry, including extreme hours of work, unpaid overtime, pay close to the legal minimum, and so on. "The natural richness of fish and shellfish should be more equitable for the entire region and not just for quota and permit holders. There are a handful of millionaires, and they are not giving workers their fair share. It doesn’t make sense,” said Gagné.
Unifor is also calling for better working conditions for fishermen's assistants who work on boats. "We want to get recognition of their status as boat captains. This is a federal responsibility and the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have been demanding this. During this election period, it is clear that we will present this claim," added Gagné.
Because of the organization of work, unionization as a fisherman's aid is difficult, so a community section has been set up to represent them. "It's about having their profession recognized to ensure job stability, better pay and safer working conditions."