FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Aug. 30th, 2019
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) has written the premier with serious concerns about how the provincial corporation responsible for the professionalization of inshore harvesters has been portraying itself.
“The head of the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board has said the board ‘operates independently and on an arm’s-length basis from the FFAW’ when that is clearly not the case,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.
“Not only is the certification board located in the same Richard Cashin Building in St. John’s as the FFAW-Unifor, but the two organizations have owned the property together since 2009,” he added. “It’s not possible to be independent and arm’s-length when you’re practically married, and living under the same roof.”
In a Nov. 23rd, 2017 letter to the province’s Labour Relations Board, Mark Dolomount, Executive Director of the Certification Board, expressed concern that his group wasn’t playing a more “significant” role in the investigation into FISH-NL’s then-application for certification as bargaining agent for inshore harvesters.
The certification board runs the fish harvester registration system, and the Labour Relations Board had been trying to get a handle on the number of inshore harvesters in the province.
In his letter, Dolomount wrote that not consulting the certification board cast “serious doubt” on the credibility of the organization, which “operates independently and on an ‘arms-length’ basis from the FFAW.”
Days after that letter was written, it was revealed that the Richard Cashin Building, located at 368 Hamilton Ave. in St. John’s (provincial headquarters of the FFAW-Unifor, and the certification board) is jointly owned by both.
“The fact the Board owns property with the FFAW-Unifor makes Mr. Dolomount’s written statements, at the very least, disingenuous,” Cleary wrote in the letter to the premier.
Cleary also noted that seven of the certification board’s 15 board members (as dictated by provincial government legislation) are FFAW-Unifor representatives. That alone should have raised questions about the certification board’s independence.
In response to Mr. Dolomount letter, the Labour Relations Board said the certification board could apply to intervene in FISH-NL’s application. The certification board decided not to do so — but only after its co-ownership of the Richard Cashin Building with the FFAW was made public.
FISH-NL has begun a second application for certification, which it expects to present to the Labour Relations Board in early November.