Thai Workers Flown In to Staff Newfoundland Fish Plant

Labour shortage leads to importation of 20 temporary foreign employees for Bay de Verde facility.

CBC News

In what is believed to be a first in Newfoundland and Labrador, foreign workers have been brought in to work at a fish plant in the province because of a shortage of available labour.

About 20 Thai workers are now on the job at the Quinlan Brothers crab and shrimp processing facility in Bay de Verde.

Gabe Gregory, a spokesman for Quinlan’s, says the hiring of temporary foreign workers followed a long and involved process.

“The fact is that the company has demand for labour, and wasn’t able to fulfil it this past winter locally, and really is left with no other choice but to take these kind of avenues,” Gregory told CBC News.

Quinlan’s advertised “extensively” throughout the province for the jobs over the past fall and winter, Gregory said.

The rate of pay is in the $12-an-hour range, which Gregory says is competitive within the industry.

While the company was successful in getting some employees, the new hires came up short of the number needed.

“That’s what prompted them to move forward with this program,” Gregory said.

Bay de Verde is located 90 kilometres north of Bay Roberts, near the northernmost part of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula.

The unemployment rate for the entire Avalon Peninsula region was 14.4 per cent in April.

Gregory said there were a number of factors that led to the move, including a general population decline and greying of people in the area.

“The workforce in the fishery, and for Quinlan’s in Bay de Verde, is no different than the demographics throughout the industry,” Gregory noted. “They’ve been challenged with dealing with maintaining a workforce in a rural community where the population is aging.”

He said it’s difficult to get people to relocate from one rural community to another, and younger people are not choosing the fishery for a career as they did in the past.

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