FISH-NL president vows to keep fighting despite certification rejection
Ryan Cleary wants to start another card-signing drive immediately
The president of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters says he's not discouraged by the provincial labour relations board's rejection of union certification for the group.
FISH-NL applied for certification nearly two years ago, an application that was quashed Friday by the board, which said the group didn't have "adequate support to warrant a vote."
President Ryan Cleary told CBC's St. John's Morning Show on Monday that the application's dismissal doesn't solve the problems that prompted him to start the group in the first place, such as the established Fish Food and Allied Workers Union representing both fishermen and fish plant workers, which he says is a conflict of interest.
Have any concerns, conflicts of interest, anything been addressed? The answer to that is no, so will any of this go away? The answer to that is also no.- Ryan Cleary
"Does that mean an end to labour unrest in the in-shore fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador? Absolutely not," he said.
"Have any problems been addressed? Absolutely not. Have any concerns, conflicts of interest, anything been addressed? The answer to that is no, so will any of this go away? The answer to that is also no."
Cleary said the labour board relied on a definition of fish harvester that's too broad, meaning the FFAW has too many members for FISH-NL to be able to challenge.
He said his group submitted 2,372 union cards, but the FFAW's membership is pegged at between 8,500 and 10,000 members, so FISH-NL didn't have a requisite 40 per cent to trigger a vote.
"That definition is that anybody with any connection to the fishery, as long as they have a fish sale in their name, with dues automatically remitted to the FFAW — they could live in Alberta or Voisey's Bay, they could work full time on the provincial ferries, they could work on a boat as a one-off, or one day for once in their life — but anybody with a connection, with a fish sale in their name, and dues sent in, is a harvester. I don't agree with that."
Cleary said members of his group are "shocked" and "dismayed" and don't want to let it go.
"They believe that federal government, provincial government, labour board, are all in this together and everybody's against the in-shore," he said. "I wouldn't go that far, obviously."
Opportunity for FISH-NL
Cleary said the dismissal is not a blow but "an opportunity."
"The opportunity is to do it again right now," he said. "We know the rules of the game now, which is, again, anybody with a connection, with a fish sale in their name, is a fisherman. We know the number we have to get. Everything is clear."
He said the group could appeal, but would cost money they don't have for an uncertain outcome.
"What I'm going to recommend to the membership is that we have another card-signing application process, and we do it right now."
With files from The St. John's Morning Show