Nfld. & Labrador

FISH-NL claims significant progress in membership drive

FISH-NL said Monday its campaign to sign up fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador has seen more than 9,000 membership cards distributed in the province.

Ryan Cleary leading province-wide tour for breakaway union

Ryan Cleary is calling his fight to form a breakaway fishery union the 'salt and pepper revolution.' (CBC)

The breakaway fishing union pushing for certification in Newfoundland and Labrador says it has made significant progress.

FISH-NL said Monday that its campaign to sign up fish harvesters in the province has distributed more than 9,000 membership cards.

The union needs the support of a majority of the province's estimated 10,000 fish harvesters to be certified. Union head Ryan Cleary says he will submit his application to the provincial labour board in mid-December.

"We'd like to get every fish harvester, in every community that we visit ... to sign a card," he said on Monday. "We obviously want the majority of fish harvesters, but we'll take every one we get."

Hitting the road

Cleary, who is leading the FISH-NL campaign, announced a province-wide tour on Monday that will include stops in Labrador and western Newfoundland. The union hopes to collect signed membership cards and hear from fish harvesters in those regions.

"We have 15 formal meetings scheduled … but we'll be looking to meet fish harvesters wherever they gather," Cleary said in a press release.

The former New Democrat member of Parliament, and provincial PC candidate, said he will also soon embark on tours across southern and eastern Newfoundland.

"We have a lot to do, and a lot of stops to do, in not a big period of time." 

Ryan Cleary began his campaign to create a breakaway fishing union in September. (CBC)

Cleary is calling his fight to form a new union — a rival to the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) — the "salt and pepper revolution," a reference to the aging fish harvesters in the province.

"A lot of older fishermen see this as the last opportunity to change the course of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, because there is no next generation." 

With files from Jeremy Eaton and Terry Roberts