Nfld. & Labrador

FFAW's threat complaints an attempt to tarnish FISH-NL: Cleary

FISH-NL head Ryan Cleary says a Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) complaint about violent threats is an attempt to unfairly tarnish his new group.

'Suggesting union representatives should be "in front of a firing squad,"' FFAW alleges

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union alleges representatives of FISH-NL have made 'numerous threats of violence and physical harm' against its members. (CBC)

FISH-NL head Ryan Cleary says a Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) complaint about violent threats is an attempt to unfairly tarnish his new group.

The FFAW alleged on Wednesday that "representatives of FISH-NL" made numerous violent threats against its staff and membership at a union meeting on Tuesday in Fortune. 

'Even more unacceptable for Mr. Cleary and FISH-NL to be condoning such behaviour.'- Keith Sullivan

"This is in addition to online threats … suggesting union representatives should be 'in front of a firing squad," the union wrote.

The union says it has filed a complaint with the RCMP, and issued a press release Wednesday calling on Cleary and FISH-NL to "immediately cease all threats of violence and personal harm."

"We take these threats of violence and intimidation very seriously," said FFAW President Keith Sullivan. "It is totally unacceptable and even more unacceptable for Mr. Cleary and FISH-NL to be condoning such behaviour."

FFAW's problem: Cleary

On Wednesday night, Cleary told CBC News that he had no idea about any threats, that the FFAW never contacted him directly about it, and said it seemed like an internal issue within the FFAW membership.

He characterized the night in Fortune as an "FFAW meeting, involving the FFAW's membership."

"Whatever happened here — and I don't know, I was not at the meeting —  but it seems to me that this is an FFAW problem. I don't know why their bringing FISH-NL into it," he said.

Cleary said he doesn't condone violence "of any kind, whatsoever," but alleged the FFAW was attempting to stain his group's reputation.

"I don't know why they are throwing FISH-NL into it, but I don't appreciate it, I can tell you that," he said.

"I guess they want to paint us in a negative light."

Following Cleary's comments, the FFAW re-asserted that threats were made by an individual who identified himself as a representative of FISH-NL.

"Labour legislation specifically forbids acts of intimidation and the onus is on Mr. Cleary and the FISH-NL leadership to ensure his organizers are not participating in this kind of behaviour," a spokesperson wrote.

Contentious campaign

Since September, former MP Ryan Cleary has been leading a push to create a new union exclusive to Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters.

The campaign to create the breakaway union has been at times contentious.

With files from Geoff Bartlett

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