FFAW guilty of corporate incompetence, union yet to apologize to family of dead fishermen for saying they didn’t qualify for benefits: FISH-NL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 16th, 2017

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the FFAW-Unifor is guilty of corporate incompetence for telling the family of a dead fishermen they did not qualify for death benefits when they likely do.

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Further, FISH-NL says there should be an external audit of the FFAW-Unifor’s handling of previous death benefit inquiries to ensure other families weren’t wrongly denied insurance payouts.

“If there’s a definition of corporate incompetence this is it,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “For the FFAW-Unifor to say they’re heartbroken over their error is absolutely disingenuous when, as of Wednesday afternoon, they haven’t even apologized to the family.”

Calvin (Bud) Tobin, a 25-year-old fisherman from Southern Harbour, died Aug. 2nd in a car accident near Clarenville. Soon after, the family contacted the FFAW-Unifor about the union-administered $30,000 insurance policy, only to be told they don’t qualify. Tobin owed $185 in outstanding union dues from 2016, and hadn’t paid them by the July 31st deadline.  

FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan told the CBC last week the decision to deny Tobin’s death benefit was made by the union’s insurance provider. However, Sun Life contacted the media to say there’s a 30-day grace period and the family should qualify. 

Earlier today, FFAW project manager Robert Keenan was quoted in the media as saying the union make a mistake in relaying false information to the Tobin family, who may qualify for the full $30,000 in benefits. 

“We did communicate the wrong information to the family and we've been heartbroken by that," Keenan told the CBC’s Central Morning Show. “Did we make a mistake? Yes. But we are doing everything we can to make it right.”

“We lost our boy, but on top of that we had to deal with the FFAW — which still hasn’t apologized,” Carol Ann Brewer, Tobin’s aunt and spokesperson for the family, said in response. “Every fisherman in this province should ask for the insurance policy and follow that — not what the FFAW tells them.”

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