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FISH-NL to proceed with second application for certification

Ryan Cleary, president of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador, speaks to reporters in St. John’s Wednesday.
Ryan Cleary, president of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador. - file photo

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) will proceed with a second application for certification — including a province-wide membership drive to begin Aug. 1 — to break inshore harvesters away from their current union.

“We’re full steam ahead — shoulders to the wheel,” Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, said in a news release.

“Inshore harvesters have told us they want change and we’ll continue to do everything in our power to deliver on that change.”

FISH-NL had set a do-or-die deadline of the end of April to raise $150,000 from harvesters in the form of dues — funds that are needed to finance the second application for certification and the three-month card-signing drive — but did not meet the financial goal.

Cleary said, however, the number of fishermen paying dues to FISH-NL is increasing has fisheries reopen.

It’s encouraging the group to keep the fight going.

“We’re not even close (to the financial goal) yet,” Cleary said. “But the flow of dues has been steady as fisheries resume and catches are landed. What we’re most encouraged by, and what drives us is constant internal polling that puts support for FISH-NL at up to 66 per cent.”

FISH-NL’s first application for certification was dismissed by the province’s Labour Relations Board in late September 2018 — almost two years after it was filed. The board ruled FISH-NL did not have the support of at least 40 per cent of harvesters required to trigger a vote for them to decide which union they want to represent them.

The release states that the board defined an inshore harvester as anyone with a fish sale in their name, and dues automatically forwarded to the FFAW-Unifor.

“It’s been almost three years since I was approached by harvesters about forming a breakaway union, and while the challenge has been the greatest of my career, we now know the rules of the game and can see the goal posts,” said Cleary. “We’ll get there yet.”

By law, the earliest FISH-NL can submit an application for certification is Nov. 1, with the card-signing drive to tentatively run from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31.

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