By Cheryl Norrad
FREDERICTON - About a half-dozen employees of St-Francois-de-Mawaska-based, Nadeau Poultry, were in Fredericton today to show their support of the company's attempts to have the government regulate the province's chicken processing industry. The regulations, if brought about claims Nadeau, would save jobs at the company, a significant employer in the province's northwest for 50 years.
"We're asking [the government]...to get a board, like they do with the milk, buy the chickens from the farmers and split it in half between the two slaughter houses [Nadeau Poulty and Westco]..." said one of the employees standing with placards across the street from the Centennial Building on King St.
The Nadeau action comes as the company stares down the prospect of looming closure due to what it says are unfair competitive practices by the other poultry processing company in the area, Westco. Nadeau blames the government for not regulating the industry and letting what it sees as Westco getting away with bending the rules, forcing it out of the chicken processing business. Nadeau wants the government to create a new chicken marketing board to make a fairer playing field so the company can stay afloat.
According to Nadeau, the dispute between the two companies, which began during the last decade, could've been avoided, had the provincial government set up a regulatory body years ago when it signed a federal-provincial agreement on the supply management system. As part of the deal, the province was obliged to set up the body, but failed to do so in successive Liberal and Conservative governments.
"Premier Alward's government must live up to their duties and take action now to save our jobs, our chicken industry and the National system that protects the security of our food supply," said literature Nadeau employees were handing out today to passersby.
The result of the government's failure to act, the information goes on to state, has allowed:
- one single group to gain control of the majority of New Brunswick chickens, putting the entire industry at risk.
- 80 per cent of New Brunswick grown chickens to now be process in Quebec, causing the loss of 165 jobs in the province.
- forcing Nadeau to face the prospect of going out of business and taking with it 200 jobs in the small St. Francois-de-Madawaska community.
The Nadeau employees standing on the street corner today said they just wanted the government to do it's job and set up the board for the sake of their employment.
"I'm doing this because I want to save my job, and I want New Brunswick to create jobs...we need some jobs up north," said one employee.