FISH-NL calls for resignation of leader of province’s Federation of Labour

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Thursday, April 27th, 2017

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is demanding the resignation of Mary Shortall, president of the province’s Federation of Labour, for taking sides in the dispute between FISH-NL and the FFAW, as well as blatant conflict of interest. 

“Mary Shortall has no business choosing sides — standing by the executive of the FFAW over rank-and-file fish harvesters who are slowly being starved out by a combination of failed management and a union that has lost its way,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “Mary Shortall has also lost touch with workers in this province and should be forced to resign immediately, and it’s not just me who’s saying that — but at least one local union president.”

Earlier this week, Shortall send a memo to local union presidents in light of the fact they are receiving questions from rank-and-file members regarding what she describes as FISH-NL-organized “demonstrations.”

“Let’s be clear about what’s really happening. Yesterday’s protest at the Cashin Building was organized by FISH-NL in order to generate support in light of its struggling attempt to raid FFAW. They have been unsuccessful in signing up the majority of fish harvesters, and in my opinion, are using desperate measures and inciting violence, division and discontent to try and destroy FFAW and their members,” Shortfall writes in the memo. 

“Given the challenges in the fishery; the lies, anger and threatening tactics of FISH-NL have only served to benefit those who wish to undermine the strength of the labour movement. The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour will continue to stand in solidarity with FFAW-Unifor, and to oppose any groups who attempt to divide us, and who work again us, our principles and our solidarity.”

A copy of Shortall’s memo was forwarded to FISH-NL by the president of a union local with the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The local president, who asked not to be named, also called for Shortall’s resignation. 

“It’s not right,” said the labour leader. “Everyone has a right to choose who is their union. I think this is a form of bullying and attack against FISH-NL.”

“So what happened to the right of ‘any union is able to represent any group of people?’ Mary Shortall should be forced to resign for that e-mail for having a double standard!”

Last fall, the NL Federation of Labour backed the FFAW in the fight to represent the province's inshore fish harvesters, but Shortall is in a conflict of interest.

Shortall has served on the board of directors of the FFAW-controlled company responsible for overseeing the province-wide dockside monitoring program. The Fish Harvesters’ Resource Centres (FRC) is a not-for-profit company created in 1993 strictly to verify fish landings, but paid the FFAW millions of dollars in “special” payments over the years. 

Jason Spingle, the FFAW’s west coast representative, is also 1st vice-president of the Federation of Labour. Further, Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director of Unifor, is a former President of the Federation of Labour who worked for years with the FFAW. She’s also good friends with Shortfall. 

Reg Anstey, former secretary-treasuer of the FFAW, also served as President of the Federation of Labour. Anstey currently serves as chair of the FFAW's elections committee, and served as late as 2015 on the board of directors of the company that oversees a controversial crab quota with close ties to the FFAW. 

“There’s an incestuous relationship between too many union leaders in this province and it must be brought to light,” said Cleary. “FISH-NL has never incited violence, division or discontent. We are a voice for inshore harvesters who have lost theirs with the FFAW.”

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Contact Ryan Cleary:  682 4862