FISH-NL applauds appeal court decision reaffirming FFAW failed its membership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 16th, 2017 

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) applauds an appeal court decision today reaffirming the FFAW failed its membership.

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The union had appealed a March, 2016 Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador ruling in favour of scallop fishermen who took the union to court over a compensation fund for lost fishing grounds in the Strait of Belle Isle. 

In the unanimous ruling handed down today, the three judges with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court of Appeal, found that the “FFAW was clearly acting outside its usual role and did not appreciate the full implications of its behaviour.”

“Inshore harvesters around the province have been saying for months that the FFAW no longer speaks for them — and this decision proves just that,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “The decision reaffirms the need for the province’s Labour Relations Board to proceed with a vote for harvesters to decide which union they want to represent them — because it’s clearly not the FFAW.”

Nalcor agreed in 2014 to pay out $2.6 million in compensation to scallop harvesters who would lose some of their grounds in the Strait of Belle Isle to an undersea cable needed to bring Muskat Falls power to the island.

The lawsuit was brought by 71 harvesters who argued the money should be shared through lump sum payments among everyone who held a scallop licence. The union argued the money should be paid out over 30 years, to active fishers who can demonstrate annual losses.

At trial, it was clear that the union had sent draft proposals to Nalcor in August and September of 2012, but didn't ask harvesters for permission to negotiate until May 2013. While harvesters were led to believe that negotiations with Nalcor hadn't yet started, talks, in fact, had all but wrapped up.

During the trial, David Goodland, the lawyer for the harvesters, said the FFAW  “lied to and misled” members about scallop settlement.

Goodland currently represents FISH-NL in its certification application before the Labour Relations Board. 

In the original Supreme Court decision, Justice Carl Thompson concluded the union failed in its responsibilities to harvesters.

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