ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor) union have another deadline.
On Friday, April 20, the province’s Labour Relations Board released a report to the two groups on its investigation into FISH-NL’s application to wrestle representation of inshore fish harvesters in the province away from FFAW-Unifor.
The two sides are once again in disagreement over the results of the investigation, however, and have until April 25 to provide comment.
FFAW-Unifor says the results of the investigation confirms the membership numbers they presented to the board – between 9,000 and 10,000 – are accurate, and called for FISH-NL’s application to be immediately dismissed due to insufficient support.
FISH-NL needs the backing of 40 per cent of inshore harvesters to trigger a certification vote.
“The report presented to us by the labour board confirms that FISH-NL does not have adequate support and their application should be dismissed without delay,” FFAW-Unifor president Keith Sullivan said in a news release.
The FFAW said the cumulative summary showed the board’s investigating officer matched 9,458 names with correspondence from fish buyers to the 2015 and 2016 membership lists they supplied, leaving FISH-NL far short of the requirement.
FFAW-Unifor stated in the release FISH-NL supplied no information supporting its claim there are 4,500 inshore fish harvesters in the province.
“For more than a year FISH-NL has misrepresented our industry, slandered the good work of the union and its members, and impeded progress on issues of tremendous importance to the inshore fishery,” Sullivan said.
“After a very thorough investigation by the Labour Relations Board, we believe it is time to dismiss this application and get back to focusing on the serious challenges facing our fishery.”
FISH-NL, meanwhile responded in a separate news release shortly after, saying FFAW-Unifor “is playing its usual smoke and mirrors” with the report.
FISH-NL countered that having dues deducted from a fish sale does not mean someone is a true, full-time inshore harvester for purposes of a certification vote.
“For example, if a person worked as an electrician’s helper for an afternoon — and they got paid for that afternoon with dues taken out of their cheque never to work in that field again — does that make them an electrician? The answer is no, of course not,” FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary said.
“These are paper names and paper numbers. FISH-NL is confident that once the definition of a true inshore harvester is decided on the FFAW-Unifors’s numbers will be shown to be overstated by thousands.”
The report will be submitted to the Labour Relations Board for consideration after the April 25 deadline for comment.