Nfld. & Labrador

FISH-NL's certification application rejected by province's labour relations board

Newfoundland and Labrador's labour relations board has rejected FISH-NL's application to become a certified union, something the FFAW has been arguing against.

FFAW-Unifor 'pleased' with the decision

FISH-NL's application to the province's labour relations board has been rejected. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's labour relations board has rejected FISH-NL's application to become a certified union, something the FFAW has been arguing against for more than two years. 

In a media release, the FFAW said it's pleased with the decision to dismiss the application.

"The investigation by the labour relations board into FISH-NL's application confirmed FFAW-Unifor's longstanding assertion that there are nearly 10,000 inshore fish harvesters in our province, which clearly shows that FISH-NL did not have adequate support to warrant a vote," the release said.

According to the FFAW, the board also acknowledged flaws in FISH-NL's application, and spoke to the group's attempts to manipulate the process.

CBC News obtained a copy of the board's decision Friday afternoon.

"The applicant filed an application for certification for an existing bargaining unit represented by the intervenor," it reads.

"The applicant claimed to have as members in good standing a majority of the existing bargaining unit. The applicant estimated the approximate size of the existing bargaining unit but did not provide any information related to that estimate when ordered by the board to do so."

The board rejected FISH-NL's calls to exclude certain fishers from the existing bargaining unit — represented by the FFAW/Unifor — from any certification vote, saying it wasn't "appropriate."

The upstart union held a membership drive in the fall of 2016, signing up 2,372 harvesters, and argued that was enough support to force a vote to see who would represent inshore fishermen.

FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary has been pushing for over two years to wrest control of the province's unionized fishers from the FFAW/Unifor. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Forty per cent plus one is the proportion of the bargaining unit the labour board uses to determine whether to hold a certification vote. With nearly 10,000 fishers recognized as FFAW members by the board, FISH-NL falls far short of the support needed to hold a vote.

"The applicant also requested that, in any event, and based upon the delay in processing the application and other legal submissions, including an alleged breach of sections 5 (1) and 6 (6) of the act by the intervenor, the board should order a certification vote."

The labour board then dismissed FISH-NL's application, stating the existing bargaining unit, the FFAW, is appropriate for collective bargaining. 

"FISH-NL will have more to say on the decision — including whether an appeal will be filed — in the coming days," said FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary in an emailed statement.

"If FFAW-Unifor or anyone else involved in the province's fishing industry believes for one second this decision will bring an end to growing labour unrest within the inshore fishery, they're living in la-la labour land," he wrote.

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