The management of the Crustacés de Gaspé plant announces the closure for the year 2019 of this snow crab processing facility located in Grande-Rivière. This plant employed 80 people in 2018.
The management of the parent company of Crustacea de Gaspe, Unipeche MDM, of Paspebiac, invokes the impossibility of making the Grande-Rivière plant profitable over the last four years as a factor that played a role in the closure decision. .
In addition, “the closure of fishing areas in 2018, due to the presence of right whales, made the outlook even worse in 2019,” said Unipêche MDM General Manager Gino Lebrasseur.
“This year, with the ice, there could be only seven to eight weeks of fishing. We can not provide enough work, hence the difficulty of recruitment. There are no other species transformed at Grande-Rivière. We were caught up in labor training programs to keep our workers busy, “he adds.
However, he does not order the final closure of the plant, although he says that “our idea is not to open it next year either. At the moment, we are working with Emploi-Quebec to put all our workers in other factories, “he notes.
The lack of manpower facilitates the task of Unipeche MDM. About twenty employees have already found work elsewhere.
Employees of Crustacés de Gaspé had come together in 2018 to form a union affiliated with Unifor and they were trying to negotiate a first collective agreement in recent months. Their representative, John Caluori, strongly believes that this unionization of employees played a major role in the decision to close the plant.
“We think it’s a big deal to get the union out of the factory,” says Caluori, noting that a negotiation meeting was scheduled for Monday. The union was notified of the closure on Thursday, March 14.
The snow crab processed in Grande-Rivière comes from a catchment area, that of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, which should benefit from a quota increase of 35% in 2019. In addition, the price of landed crab is expected to be high this year, in the same parameters as in 2018, an excellent year in that direction.
“There is no moratorium, and we are not in an environment in crisis! We do not face an old factory. The company has put money to (ensure) the traceability of the products. It feels, when there is a disinvestment, and it was not (…) They (the leaders) had said on February 25 that they would start the factory this year, and that it was necessary to start table for the recall of workers, since we saw that we could not finish collective bargaining before, “analyzes Mr. Caluori.
He met the workers on Monday to support them in the next steps.
For his part, Gino Lebrasseur ensures that the decision of Unipêche MDM is not anti-union. “It’s a business decision, economic,” he says.
The volume of crab processed in Grande-Rivière was 800,000 pounds in 2018, below the breakeven point. The crab delivered in 2019 will be sent to the large Paspébiac plant, “which did not work at capacity either last year,” notes Mr. Lebrasseur. About 300 people work at the Paspebiac complex.