The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) today released details of its certification application filed with the Labour Relations Board on Dec. 30th, including the total number of fish harvesters signed on.
“A total of 2,372 harvesters from more than 300 Newfoundland and Labrador communities signed FISH-NL cards over our two-month membership drive,” says Ryan Cleary, president of FISH-NL. “From all indications that number represents well over 50 per cent of all inshore fish harvesters.”
A federal Access to Information Act request filed this past September with Employment and Social Development Canada revealed that 6,354 Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters were in receipt of fishing EI last February, the most of any month in 2015.
Most harvesters file Employment Insurance claims, the total number of which is seen as a strong indicator of the total number of harvesters, FISH-NL explained in a press release. 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.”
“FISH-NL has also heard from harvesters who’ve been threatened and intimidated by the FFAW against signing FISH-NL cards,” said Cleary. “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 today copies 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 5 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 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.