Cleary, the head of the renegade fisheries union FISH-NL, said Tuesday the province’s Labour Relations Board needs to hurry up and call a vote on whether to formally certify the union.
After getting the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters, Newfoundland and Labrador’s (FISH-NL) application at the end of 2016, the Labour Relations Board requested additional information from FISH-NL, the current fisheries union and the Association of Seafood Producers.
The board is trying to determine exactly how many active inshore fish harvesters there are.
Cleary said FISH-NL and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union turned over the information, but the Association of Seafood Producers said it doesn’t have the power to compel its member companies to provide information.
“A key piece of information in determining a true list of inshore harvesters and a way to verify the FFAW’s numbers is through the Association of Seafood Producers’ list,” Cleary said.
“Our issue is the fact that that was five months ago. That was in March. And the Labour Relations Board has yet to make an application with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to enforce that order.”
Cleary said he’s speaking out now because the indication from the board is that it won’t be headed to court any time soon to get a formal order for the information.
“I didn’t get an indication in my conversation with the investigator with the Labour Relations Board that that would happen any time soon. So this needs to be resolved,” he said.
“Fishermen are sick of waiting for this. They want a vote.”
Cleary said a vote is the only acceptable course of action at this point, because members of FISH-NL are sufficiently upset with the FFAW that there needs to be some resolution.
He said at this point, even without certification they’re functioning as a real union, albeit a cash-strapped one because they can’t collect dues.
“I represent inshore harvesters and problems they have, for example, with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I deal with that 24 hours a day,” he said.
“We’ve got 2,500 members and counting, in terms of the unofficial members, and we are a union right now.”