Labour Board removes investigator assigned to FISH-NL’s certification application; entire process ‘a nightmare’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, Dec. 5th, 2017

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is deeply concerned that the investigator with the province’s Labour Relations Board assigned to its application for certification has been removed from the file almost a year after taking it on.

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“The process of reviewing our application has already taken far too long, and now it will most definitely take even longer,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “This entire situation is a nightmare.”

Cleary was contacted on Monday morning by an inshore harvester who read on the Internet that Jody Saunders, a Mount Pearl lawyer, had been disciplined in July, 2006 by the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Saunders was found guilty of “conduct deserving of sanction” on four charges involving “competence and quality of service”, and reprimanded by the law society.

The harvester questioned whether it was the same Jody Saunders, a lawyer by trade, who serves as Deputy CEO of the Labour Relations Board, and who’s been the investigator assigned to FISH-NL’s application from Day 1. Saunders joined the Labour Relations Board in 2012. 

FISH-NL raised the concern with Glenn Branton, CEO of the Labour Relations Board, who telephoned back a short while later Monday to say “another officer has been assigned to the file.”

FISH-NL presented its application for certification to the Labour Relations Board on Dec. 30, 2016, with little movement in the case until mid-October, when the board released a list of 6,372 inshore harvesters it had been handed by DFO. 

The list is of names only. The communities where the harvesters live and contact information wasn’t provided for “confidentiality reasons.”

Cleary says that has created a situation where — in order to verify the Labour Board’s list — harvesters are put in a position of having to investigate other harvesters, neighbours investigating neighbours. 

“This process is ludicrous,” said Cleary. “The Labour Board’s list of harvesters is also grossly inaccurate — including harvesters who’ve retired, sold out or are deceased — and then on top of that there are names of people who’ve never fished.”

“FISH-NL's captains, because that’s who’s doing this verification work, are expected to investigate whether a particular harvester is living or dead, whether they actually fish or work full-time in Alberta or at something else, and then supply their contact information,” he said. “The confidentiality argument doesn’t hold water, and our captains are not comfortable with the process.”

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