Twillingate plant closure ‘biggest blow since the cod moratorium’, employee says

Out of a job after 45 years    

Published on June 22, 2017

Milton Hynes has been working at the Twillingate fish plant for the past 45 years. He says the closure of Notre Dame Seafoods means an uncertain future him and his fellow workers.

©Adam Randell/The Beacon

TWILLINGATE, NL — For more than 45 years the Twillingate fish plant has been Milton Hynes’ livelihood.

But with the news Wednesday that the plant is shutting down, perhaps permanently, he’s unsure of his future.

He’s picked up a few hours of work over the last month, offloading boats. However, with heavy ice conditions hampering the fishing boats this season, and smaller quotas for fishermen, there won’t be enough work for him to qualify for employment insurance in the fall, when the fishery concludes.

And with other processing plants across the province feeling the same pinch from the quota reductions, Hynes said finding employment elsewhere isn’t an option.

“I know some of guys who contacted other plants but there’s nothing,” he said.

His story is just one of the 100 stories that are now shared by Notre Dame Seafoods workers.

“It’s absolutely devastating,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned without a fishery you’ve got no town.”

Hynes says this has been the hardest blow for Twillingate since the 1992 announcement of the northern cod moratorium.

There’s been no talk of compensation for the displaced workers. However, a meeting for the unionized plant workers, members of the Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW), is scheduled for next Tuesday.

For the past month, some plant workers in Twillingate have been getting a few hours of work offloading boats, but it won’t be enough work to enable them to qualify for employment insurance benefits in the fall.
Adam Randell/The Beacon

In the face of an uncertain future, Hynes is certain of one thing. If nothing happens it will have dire consequences for Twillingate and the surrounding area.

“This is going to affect everyone,

As for Hynes, he says, “If things don’t get no brighter, I’m going to have to go out of province to look for work.”

At the local wharf, fisherman Randy Elliott was busy getting ready to go crab fishing.

The late start to the fishing season, due to ice, has also delayed work, and income, for fishers.

He called the situation ‘heartbreaking” and predicts a rough road ahead for

“You’re seeing the effects of it already,” he said. “There’s nobody on the go other than tourists; you can see it in the grocery story and everywhere else you go.”

With that, Elliott hurried back to deal with his own immediate future, trying to land his crab quota.