Nfld. & Labrador

FFAW president responds to Ryan Cleary: Union needs co-operation, not division

A new union won't solve the fishing industry's problems, says the head of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union.

Union view

6 years ago
Duration 2:06
FFAW President Keith Sullivan responds to news that some fish harvesters want to start a new union.

A new union won't solve the fishing industry's problems, says the head of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union.

Keith Sullivan, responding to former MP Ryan Cleary's assertion that he's been asked by fishermen to start a new union, said a new organization isn't the answer.

"We know there's certainly challenges out there, but we work with hundreds and hundreds of volunteers to find unity and find out we can address challenges like there are in (fishing zone) 3Ps rather than being divisive on these issues."

On Thursday, Sullivan pointed to the recent fight against the federal Last In, First Out policy that resulted in inshore vessel operators getting 70 per cent of the northern shrimp quota.

Being more divided is certainly not helpful.- Keith Sullivan

"We worked with all members of the community, our members, whether you're in a plant or on a boat, or whether you're a municipal or business leader, by bringing these people to address the issues," he said. "So I think that's always a better route to go."

"Being more divided is certainly not helpful, And in cases, if there are challenges like different fishing fleets, like there always will be, we have a venue and a way to discuss our issues."

"We're part of the most influential national union in the country, Unifor, 315,000 members, and I think that's a benefit, having people from a diverse group behind us and having a more co-ordinated approach to things."

Sullivan also wasn't buying Cleary's argument that fishermen are afraid to speak out against the FFAW for fear of a backlash.

'This is about his own political gain': Payne

"It's certainly never been an issue for our members, those in the fisheries or other industries, to voice their opinions," he said. "I think most people in the province would understand that people tend to be vocal and passionate."

Lana Payne, Unifor's Atlantic regional director, accused Cleary of grasping at straws.

"Ryan Cleary proves he cares about one thing and one thing only: Ryan Cleary," she tweeted Thursday.

"By sowing the seeds of discontent and attempting to put worker against worker, Cleary shows this is about his own political gain," 

With files from Peter Cowan