OCI, FFAW plan talks on Newfoundland Lynx dispute

There are new talks coming up to try to settle the latest labour dust-up between the fisheries union and the province's largest fish processor.

Company locked out trawlermen five weeks ago; allegations continue to fly

The FFAW's Greg Pretty addresses union members during a protest at OCI headquarters on Friday. (CBC)

There are new talks coming up to try to settle the latest labour dust-up between the fisheries union and the province's largest fish processor.

Ocean Choice locked out fishermen on its trawler Newfoundland Lynx five weeks ago. That sparked a nasty dispute that's still dragging on.

"We'll be back at the table by Wednesday morning," said Greg Pretty, who leads the Fish, Food and Allied Workers' negotiating team. "That's good news for everybody, for all hands."

The union says money is at the core of this dispute.

OCI says it’s about fundamental principles — management's right to determine where and what species of fish to catch, and when.

But Pretty says that will mean smaller paycheques for union members.

"I go into bargaining with a fundamental principle too ... and that principle is that we don't go backwards in our incomes," Pretty said.

Pretty says the union will go back into talks with every intention of reaching a deal, and has proven it can do that in the past.

But he admits bad blood remains.

In February, unionized crewmembers were arrested and held in custody after trying to block replacement workers from boarding the Newfoundland Lynx in Bay Roberts.

And this week, trawlermen boarded the Lynx while the vessel was docked in Mulgrave, N.S. The union says its members walked off the ship of their own accord, rather than be arrested by police.

OCI president Martin Sullivan is blaming the union for damage to company property. (CBC)

News of the planned talks comes in the wake of a testy day of accusations flying between the company and the union.

OCI sent CBC News a video showing someone using a chainsaw to cut down a light pole outside the company’s front gate in Marystown.

Company president Martin Sullivan says the union is responsible.

"We've had tens of thousand dollars worth of damage in Marystown, related, since the strike began," Sullivan said.

Sullivan says the damage caused in Marystown is only one example of how the union is trying to bring OCI to its knees over the closure of the plant in the Burin Peninsula town.

He says there have also been intimidation tactics employed at OCI headquarters in Paradise. Sullivan says his car tires have been slashed twice, and three others have had their tires flattened.

Pretty, meanwhile, was unmoved by those comments.

"He's pussin’ and sookin’ about his tires when we got 45 men here who have been locked out. This is the first lockout in 40 years of the fishing industry and Martin is talking about his tires."

OCI says it has handed over the video from Marystown to police. The company says it expects charges to be laid.