Nfld. & Labrador

FISH-NL dissolves, application dead in the water

Time has run out for FISH-NL, which announced today it is ending its membership drive far below the required number of signatures, and the group is being dissolved.

Membership drive well below 4,000 needed signatures, Ryan Cleary says

Ryan Cleary, centre, announces the dissolving of FISH-NL after its second membership drive came in below the required 4,000 signatures. (CBC)

Time has run out for FISH-NL, which announced today it is ending its membership drive far below the required number of signatures, and the group is being dissolved.

Ryan Cleary, president of the Federation of Independent Fish Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador, made the announcement Tuesday.

The total number of membership cards is well below the 4,000 signatures needed to trigger a vote on whether it should be the union to represent Newfoundland and Labrador's inshore fishermen.

An application to the Labour Relations Board won't be going ahead.

This fall's membership drive was FISH-NL's second attempt at certification for the union.

Its previous attempt fell short when it collected 2,372 cards, and the Labour Relations Board rejected its first application for a certification vote.

Membership drive pitted workers against each other: FFAW

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union said Tuesday it's unsurprising that FISH-NL has ended its membership drive. 

"For the past three years, Ryan Cleary and FISH-NL have spread misinformation concerning FFAW, its leadership and the work the union does to represent members. The group's efforts to divide the industry have only created chaos and distracted from the real issues at hand," reads a media release issued minutes after FISH-NL announced it was folding. 

"It is clear this group has done nothing but create turmoil and unrest in our coastal communities, pitting fish harvesters against plant workers, skippers against crew," said FFAW president Keith Sullivan in the statement. 

Fish, Food and Allied Workers president Keith Sullivan says the FISH-NL membership drive pitted different workers in the industry against each other. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

Sullivan said that he questions just how large FISH-NL had even become before its dissolution.

"We have no idea the validity of what cards they had last time, and certainly no idea the validity of what they would've had this time. Certainly they were a long ways off from presenting an application. They presented one last time and obviously it failed."

"There's a lot of divisions trying to be driven there, and there are challenges. Obviously in some fisheries quotas were low. FISH-NL were trying to capitalize on those insecurities and divisions, and that's not the way we want to operate," he said.

"They kept it going for years even though they knew they didn't have the support." 

Sullivan said his organization will work with all members, including those who signed a FISH-NL card. 

"To those people who have signed FISH-NL cards or registered your frustration with us, we definitely hear you," he said. 

"Our union needs you, and if we want to advance our industry and improve the lives of our members, we need people moving forward together."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The Broadcast

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