FORTUNE, N.L. – Things are hunky-dory at Ocean Choice International’s (OCI) fish plant in Fortune these days, according to Karen Caines, chair of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union.
Since opening last October to process redfish, employment has been steady at the facility, Caines said.
OCI recently posted a job advertisement for production workers for both day and evening shifts.
“We’re going to be processing redfish again this fall, and hopefully we’re going to get enough employees to have two full shifts,” Caines told The Southern Gazette in a phone interview on Tuesday, July 31.
Caines said workers got 15 weeks of work on redfish last year. They received additional weeks this past winter processing redfish, yellowtail flounder and grey sole. Everyone qualified for employment insurance (EI), she said.
Nothing is thrown in the garbage when processing redfish, Caines said.
“There’s not a bit of the redfish that goes for waste, not a bit. It’s packed for bait, that’s the small ones, undersized ones. The heads are packed for bait. Everything on the redfish is utilized at the plant, the brains and everything,” she explained.
Caines said three shifts are scheduled to process grey sole at the plant for a week starting Aug. 13.
“Then we’ll be going over to redfish and processing a bit of yellowtail on the sides when we need it,” she said.
That work will run from the end of August to the last of November or early December, she anticipates.
Caines said training will be provided for the new hires.
“If it’s putting fish in racks, they’ll be trained for IQF (individually quick frozen). If they need some extra people for electric cutters, they’ll be trained for that. If there’s trimming to be done, they’ll be trained for that. Whatever training is necessary the company is providing,” she said.
Caines, who noted there are currently 94 workers on the seniority list, indicated the plant operated for three weeks processing yellowtail flounder and grey sole last month because the markets ran out.
“Everyone is quite pleased with what was going on and the way things worked out. The company seems to be quite pleased by it,” Caines said.
“I know the management is quite pleased by it with the response we’re getting, right, and the yield that we’re getting off the redfish, and everything is perfect,” Caines said.
Buyers also seem to be happy with the product coming for the plant as well, she added.