Nfld. & Labrador

Trawler protest ends, Newfoundland Lynx sails again

Newfoundland trawlermen are onboard a vessel docked in Nova Scotia that's at the centre of a labour dispute with Ocean Choice International.

FFAW members travelled to Mulgrave, N.S., where vessel was docked

Police near the Newfoundland Lynx in Mulgrave, N.S. (Submitted by Mandy Ryan)

Newfoundland trawlermen have left a vessel docked in Nova Scotia that's at the centre of a labour dispute with Ocean Choice International.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union says members walked off the Newfoundland Lynx of their own accord, rather than be arrested by police.

The Lynx has since left port in Mulgrave, N.S.

Union officials say their members were protesting because the Newfoundland Lynx is operating with replacement workers.

"The official crew of the Newfoundland Lynx came up yesterday from Newfoundland and boarded the Lynx this morning," said the FFAW's Dave Decker, who was in Nova Scotia with seven trawlermen who boarded the vessel.

"They've been locked out after 40 years working for the company ... and what OCI has done is replace the crew with scab labour ... They've just done a five-week trip fishing redfish and instead of coming into port in Newfoundland, they came to Nova Scotia to run away from their workers."

The union is categorizing the brief occupation of the ship as a success. Decker says union members talked four replacement crew members into leaving the Lynx, while two others refused to board.

The Newfoundland Lynx is owned by Ocean Choice International. It was tied up in Mulgrave, N.S., across the Strait of Canso from Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton.

Company officials, meanwhile, accused the FFAW of offering "cash bribes" to get replacement workers to leave the vessel.

'Walked aboard'

Decker said the locked-out workers had no trouble getting on the ship.

"They just drove up to the boat and walked aboard," Decker said before the protest ended.

"The men are talking to the replacement workers. It's a pretty difficult situation. Some of those scabs are very sheepish and others just didn't know what they were getting into … but it is something that is going to eat away at them. They are being used to break men who worked on that vessel for decades."

RCMP arrived on the scene soon after.

In February, unionized crewmembers were arrested and held in custody after trying to block replacement workers from boarding the Newfoundland Lynx in Bay Roberts.

The trawler left port shortly thereafter.

After they were released, the union workers moved their picket line to OCI's headquarters in Paradise.