Newfoundland and Labrador Oil Tanker Crews Being Displaced, FFAW/CAW Warns.

November 2, 2010, 11:50 AM EST

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A recent oil industry decision to not extend the lease of the oil tanker Vinland is displacing local tanker crew members in Newfoundland and Labrador in favour of lower-paid foreign crews, FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy says.

McCurdy stressed that the decision to discontinue using the Vinland can only be accomplished with increased use of 'second leg' shipments by foreign tankers, which are not required to meet Canadian tanker specifications and which employ much lower-paid crews.

McCurdy, who was part of a One Ocean delegation to the Gulf of Mexico recently, said the massive spill in the Gulf highlights the vulnerability of the fishing industry to mishaps in the oil sector.

"We recognize the importance of the oil and gas sector to the economy of our province," he said. "But there has to be greater recognition of the vulnerability of our marine and shoreline environment as well as our fishing economy when incidents like the Deepwater Horizon, Exxon Valdez and Prestige disasters occur."

He said the cost savings from using the cheaper foreign vessels with less stringent standards pale into insignificance in comparison with the costs associated with an oil spill. "Every time oil is trans-shipped there is a risk," McCurdy said. "That risk is greatest on the people in the fishing industry," he said.

The FFAW/CAW, which represents fishers throughout the province, is calling on the Newfoundland/Labrador provincial government to organize a meeting with the oil industry and the union, in an effort to find an acceptable outcome.

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