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FFAW calls for dismissal of FISH-NL’s certification application

FFAW president Keith Sullivan (left) and FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary.
FFAW president Keith Sullivan (left) and FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary. - Sally Cole

Unions at odds over Labour Relations Board report

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union is calling for the immediate dismissal of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters’ (FISH-NL) certification application to the Labour Relations Board, stating FISH-NL has insufficient support to initiate a ratification vote.

FISH-NL and the FFAW are at odds over membership numbers stated in a board report released to the two parties for comment Friday afternoon.

The board’s report is the result of its investigation into FISH-NL’s 2016 application for union certification, and includes information on union membership numbers.

The FFAW says FISH-NL’s lack of support is proven with the report.

According to the FFAW, the report confirms its membership numbers, which it initially estimated to be between 9,000 and 10,000 members. The board’s report shows the investigating officer matched 9,458 names in correspondence from fish buyers to the 2015 and 2016 membership lists supplied to the investigating officer by the FFAW.

“While FISH-NL supplied no information in support of its allegation of 4,500 fish harvesters, FFAW provided detailed membership information to the board. … If the Labour Relations Board accepted that every card signed by FISH-NL was in good order, which FFAW believes is not the case, then FISH-NL would have only signed up 25.1 per cent of fishers,” the FFAW stated in a news release Friday afternoon.

“The report presented to us by the labour board confirms that FISH-NL does not have adequate support and their application should be dismissed without delay,” FFAW president Keith Sullivan stated.

The FFAW said the investigation by the Labour Relations Board is comprehensive and its results are beyond dispute.

However, FISH-NL is doing just that — disputing the numbers, calling the FFAW’s response to the report “smoke and mirrors.”

In a statement regarding the board’s report, FISH-NL said that just because a person had dues deducted from a fish sale does not make them “a bonafide, full-time, boots-on-a-deck inshore harvester for purposes of a certification vote.”

“For example, if a person worked as an electrician’s helper for an afternoon — and they got paid for that afternoon with dues taken out of their cheque, never to work in that field again — does that make them an electrician? The answer is no, of course not,” FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary stated in a news release.

FISH-NL maintains that the definition of an inshore harvester needs to be determined, and that will show the FFAW’s membership numbers —  which FISH-NL called “paper names and paper numbers” — are overstated by thousands.

Both parties have until April 25 to formally respond to the board’s report.

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