Nfld. & Labrador

FFAW boss McCurdy hits back at OCI claims

Fish, Food and Allied Workers union president Earle McCurdy says OCI's charges about the union's lack of support for the fish plant in Fortune are untrue.

Union leader calls Martin Sullivan's comments about Fortune plant 'a total fabrication'

FFAW president Earle McCurdy hit back at Ocean Choice International during an interview taped for On Point with David Cochrane. (CBC)

Fish, Food and Allied Workers union president Earle McCurdy is firing back at the president of Ocean Choice International, calling Martin Sullivan's comments about the union's lack of support for the fish plant in Fortune untrue.

"What Mr. Sullivan is saying is a total fabrication and misrepresentation of any discussions we’ve had," McCurdy said.

Martin Sullivan, Ocean Choice International's CEO, alleges that the FFAW has clandestinely called for the Fortune fish plant to be closed. (CBC)

"What you do when you don’t want to debate the issues is you start making personal attacks. About the only thing he didn’t accuse us of is child molesting."

Earlier, Sullivan accused the union of clandestinely backing the closure of OCI’s plant in Fortune while taking a different stance in public. He alleged that the FFAW favoured a joint bid with the company, seeking $10 million in government money, to keep the Marystown facility open.

Both Sullivan and McCurdy made their comments in interviews for this weekend’s episode of On Point with David Cochrane.

Asked whether Sullivan was lying, McCurdy said: "He’s making it up. He’s smoking something. I don’t know what he’s doing. But what he should do is stick with the issues."

McCurdy said the FFAW pushed OCI hard to make an investment in Marystown, but the company said it would have to close Fortune to do so.

On Point with David Cochrane

Watch the full episode on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. NT

In December, Ocean Choice announced it would shutter its plants in Marystown and Port Union. OCI sought processing exemptions from the province, dangling the prospect of nearly doubling the workforce in Fortune in return. The government ultimately rejected the plan.

McCurdy said Sullivan’s "tirade" against the union was a diversionary tactic, after he was asked about how politically adept it was for OCI to use "scab" workers on a company vessel while seeking those exemptions from government.

That, McCurdy said, combined with a union protest of OCI vice-president Loyola Sullivan’s acceptance of a business award this week, saw Martin Sullivan get "spitey."

He accused OCI of having no plans to continue operations in Fortune beyond the five years remaining in an agreement with the government.

McCurdy said the Sullivan family members that run OCI have "an unbelievable sense of entitlement."

The union said their ultimate plan is to see the company get cake from the industry, while workers get only the crumbs.

"Maybe they need to reflect on how they do business, and try and resolve problems instead of just going on with these potshots in public."