FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Nov. 8, 2019
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is extending its membership drive to reach more inshore harvesters.
“We always knew a time extension was available if we needed it,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “We need the extra time based on the unique challenges associated with collecting membership cards over a 90-day timeline from thousands of inshore harvesters spread out over a massive geographical area, as was the case 22 years ago.”
“In order to make sure all inshore harvesters have the opportunity to decide their future we have decided to go with an extension.”
Precedent for an extension of the 90-day rule was set in 1997 when the province’s Labour Relations Board agreed to extend the timeline up to 180 days for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which, at the time, was also trying to break harvesters free from the FFAW.
“The 90-day rule doesn’t make sense when FISH-NL has to organize thousands of inshore harvesters — keeping in mind we don’t know who many of them are — in hundreds of communities in the most remote areas,” said Cleary, “and too often when we did reach certain communities the harvesters were either at sea or not in the area.”
By law, FISH-NL must have cards signed by 40 per cent of the overall membership to trigger a vote. The FFAW-Unifor has pegged the number of harvesters at roughly 10,000.
“Volunteers are asking for more time to canvass harvesters, and the executive has agreed,” said Cleary. “This past week’s Day of Action told us that there are dozens of communities, and potentially several thousand harvesters we have yet to reach.”
To be eligible to sign a FISH-NL card, a person must have a single fish sale in their name this year or in 2018. A harvester can also have an up-to-date registration with the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board.