FISH-NL’s request for immediate vote denied by Labour Board; inshore harvesters most controlled labour group in western world

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Sept. 1, 2017

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is disappointed that the province’s Labour Relations Board has denied its recent request for an immediate vote for inshore harvesters to decide their union fate.

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“It’s impossible to enjoy the Labour Day Weekend when upwards of 3,000 inshore harvesters are being crucified by oppressive union representation, and a government that allows it to continue,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.

“What’s more, provincial legislation blocks harvesters from taking part in free enterprise in that outside fish buyers aren’t allowed in. Where else in the democratic world would this be permitted? Harvesters are the most controlled labour group in the province, country, and western world.”

FISH-NL wrote David Conway, the new chair of the province’s Labour Relations Board, on Aug. 15th, requesting the board proceed with an immediate vote to determine which union they want to represent them.

“The perception amongst inshore harvesters — as well as the broader NL public — is that the powers that be are dragging their heels with FISH-NL’s application as a means to ‘starve out’ the new union,” Cleary wrote in the letter.

In an Aug. 31st response letter, CEO Glenn Branton pointed out the investigation into FISH-NL’s application for certification — which was presented to the board on Dec. 30, 2016 — is ongoing. 

“An investigation and a comprehensive report are necessary in order for the Board to exercise its legislative authority,” Branton wrote. “The process being used is consistent with the Board’s past practices as it relates to an application for certification.”

“I would encourage parties to continue to support the investigative process.”

Cleary said that’s hard to do when inshore harvesters are suffering from severe cuts to quotas, limited buyers for what fish are left, and are being represented by a union that’s lost its way. 

“As it stands, inshore harvesters do not have medical, dental or pension benefits; they don’t even enjoy the most fundamental union right — the right to strike,” said Cleary.

“The FFAW-Unifor collects more money from Ottawa/the province/oil companies/harvester fees than from membership dues. Conflicts of interest are rampant, and the union has clearly crossd the line and become involved in fisheries management,” he added. 

“The normal union/management dynamic has been mutated into a labour monster. The odds have always been against FISH-NL, but the movement grows because defeat is unacceptable.

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