FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Feb. 23rd, 2018
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) describes the latest legal maneuvers by the FFAW-Unifor to try and derail a vote by inshore harvesters on their union representation as an “act of desperation.”
“The FFAW-Unifor executive knows they’ll lose a vote, and are desperate to cling to power,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “They’re using the courts and legal costs to try and quash the FISH-NL movement, but we’re past the point of no return — a vote must happen before inshore harvesters and the fishery can move forward.”
The FFAW-Unifor applied this week to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to try and overturn a Feb. 21st, 2017 decision of the province’s Labour Relations Board.
In that decision, handed down almost exactly a year ago, the Board ruled FISH-NL is an “association of fishers” under the Fisheries Industry Collective Bargaining Act. The FFAW-Unifor had challenged FISH-NL’s status as a properly constituted union.
A court date is expected to be set soon.
“The FFAW is using its membership’s own money to try and block the democratic right of inshore harvesters to choose their union representation ,” said Cleary, adding it was only this week that the union’s Inshore Council met, with some members reportedly advising the union executive to “get on with the vote.”
Ironically, Unifor President Gerry Dias argues on the national front that transit and hotel workers in Ontario should have the democratic right to choose their representation, going so far as to recently pull Unifor out of the Canadian Labour Congress in protest. At the same time, Unifor’s affiliate — the FFAW — denies fishermen/women the same right.
It’s been almost 14 months since FISH-NL filed an application for certification with the province’s Labour Relations Board, which is still trying to determine how many inshore harvesters there are. There’s no end in sight to that process.
“FISH-NL has always struggled with funding, but that hasn’t stopped us before, and won’t stop us now.”