Employees of former N.B. lobster plant face long-term unemployment
Published Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:33PM AST
Workers of the former lobster plant on Deer Island gathered Wednesday to hear about what’s next as the parent company of the facility looks to get people back to work.
The Paturel International facility on Northern Harbour Road was destroyed on March 1 in a devastating fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The plant employed more than 100 people and was the largest employer on Deer Island.
"Somehow or other we'll get through this,” says employee Paul Richardson. “It is a different situation, with close to a tenth of the population just suddenly unemployed."
Wednesday’s meeting was hosted by company and Service Canada officials.
“A lot of these people live pay cheque to pay cheque in this county and there's not a whole lot of opportunities. We're looking to see what can be done," says employee Darrell Tidd.
In a statement, East Coast Seafood Group said, "The company has announced its intention to rebuild but that rebuilding process could take two years or longer to complete, far longer than traditional employment insurance benefits will last."
Employees say the company has made no commitment when it comes to providing severance pay. They want the government to drop the waiting period for E.I. and to extend the benefits.
"This is not the first fish plant to burn down on the East Coast, and in the past, they have extended E.I.," says Richardson.
A number of employees are also concerned about the fate of dozens of temporary foreign workers.
"A lot of them cannot receive E.I. and I would like to see the government step in and help them too," says employee Camilla Hooge.
The company is working with other major employers in the area, hoping to find temporary placements for as many workers as possible.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.