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FISH-NL says it has more than 50 per cent support


The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador has released details of its certification application filed with the Newfoundland Labour Relations Board on Dec. 30.

Ryan Cleary, president of FISH-NL.

“A total of 2,372 harvesters from more than 300 Newfoundland and Labrador communities signed FISH-NL cards over our two-month membership drive,” Ryan Cleary, president of FISH-NL, said in a news release. “From all indications that number represents well over 50 per cent of all inshore fish harvesters.”
A federal Access to Information Act request filed in September 2016 with Employment and Social Development Canada revealed that 6,354 Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters were in receipt of fishing employment insurance last February, t
he most of any month in 2015.
FISH-NL said most harvesters file EI claims, the total number of which is seen as a strong indicator of the total number of harvesters. But the fishing EI claims also include offshore trawlermen, who won’t be represented by FISH-NL, and their number must be subtracted.
“This has been a guessing game from the start,” said Cleary, “From the total number of inshore fish harvesters in the province to who they are and where they live, we’ve been working with our hands tied behind our back from the start and we’ve still gotten the job done.”
He said FISH-NL has also heard from harvesters who claim to  have been threatened and intimidated by the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) against signing FISH-NL cards. “As well, some harvesters who are tied to fish processors through financial agreements say they were advised not to sign membership cards. Those are the kind of odds we’ve been working against.”
The Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board is expected to release copies today of FISH-NL’s certification application. Once the application is released, the FFAW and fish processors will have 10 calendar days to respond. In turn, FISH-NL will have five calendar days to represent to those responses.
The Labour Relations Board will then conduct an investigation of the application and the membership cards, a process that Cleary said could take “weeks or months.” Once that investigation is complete and a report is issued, FISH-NL will have two days to respond before the final report is released.

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