Talk about absolute union control. In a March 29th letter to the province’s lobster buyers/processors, the union gave written notice that they are to tack a 2¢/lb levy on all lobster purchased by a processor/buyer in the province. That's even though many union members rejected the lobster levy at FFAW meetings this past winter.
Based on 4,986 tonnes (almost 11 million/lbs) of lobster landed from waters around Newfoundland and Labrador last year, a 2¢/lb FFAW lobster levy would generate almost $220,000.
The letter also advises buyers/processors (who handle payroll for the inshore fleet) that the amount of weekly union dues deducted for the 2022/23 season is now set at $35 — a $10 increase.
The weekly union dues and lobster levy are to be forwarded to the FFAW office by the 15th of each month.
The union didn't both bother to tell members directly about the levy.
Lobster harvesters around the province are both shocked and outraged, and rightly so.
Many owner-operators rejected the levy outright at recent meetings, and made it clear to SEA-NL where they stand.
SEA-NL wrote about it here: FFAW proposed 2¢/lb for lobster marketing unjustified; better ways to increase price to harvesters
SEA-NL also conducted a Facebook poll: of the 56 who responded 4 were for it., for a rejection rate of almost 93%.
It was only in 2016 that the FFAW tried/failed to introduce a 5¢/lb levy on the lobster price to pay for the union's "management" of that fishery, and it was actually the buyers who voted it down; most harvesters didn't know about it.
The fact that the FFAW can unilaterally introduce a levy on any fish harvesters by members in waters around the province is just wrong.
Owner-operators should be polled about policy decisions — just as DFO has decided to poll them about vessel-length restrictions in this province.
As one lobster fishermen wrote, "This is kind of sickening. They (the FFAW) do what they want, and we don't get to say a word. Talk about communism. They're in the wrong continent for God's sake. I guess we have to pay for the so-called rally Monday."
Executive Director, SEA-NL
To read more about SEA-NL, and for owner-operators to join please visit our website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Please sign SEA-NL's petition to the House of Commons on non-core commercial fishing licences here.