FFAW-Unifor stoops to new low; committee members forced to sign ‘pledge of allegiance’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, Jan. 29th, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) charges the FFAW-Unifor with stooping to a new low in forcing inshore harvesters to sign a pledge of allegiance to serve on area committees, potentially blocking thousands of dues-payers from taking part.

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“So much for democracy — the labour situation in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery is as bad as any communist regime ever was,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. 

Lumsden fisherman Larry Parsons, who served on the turbot committee in fishing zone 3K off Newfoundland’s northeast coast for 4-5 years, attended a meeting Monday morning at the Musgrave Harbour Fire Hall. 

The FFAW staff-representative in attendance held an election of committee members, and Parsons was told he would have to sign a pledge of the allegiance to the FFAW, but he refused.

“The FFAW wants to control you. If you don’t kiss their arse, you’re out,” Parsons said. “I don’t want to be stirring up trouble, but right is right and wrong is wrong.”

In early 2018 the FFAW-Unifor executive board quietly amended the union’s Constitution so that all candidates interested in running for executive positions had to sign an affidavit to swear they hadn’t been a “member, officer or director” of FISH-NL within the past three years, or signed a FISH-NL membership card.

The move effectively blocked thousands of harvesters who had signed FISH-NL cards from running against president Keith Sullivan or secretary-treasurer Dave Decker — protecting their jobs for another three-year term, and punishing harvesters who took a stand against the union.

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