Nfld. & Labrador

FFAW claims harvesters revoking signed support for FISH-NL

The president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) says some fish harvesters are having a change of heart about FISH-NL.

'It's become very clear harvesters are not buying the hollow agenda,' FFAW head says

Keith Sullivan (left), president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, says harvesters are revoking their previously pledged support to FISH-NL, spearheaded by Ryan Cleary (right). (CBC)

The president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) says some fish harvesters are having a change of heart about FISH-NL.

In a news release Monday, Keith Sullivan said his union is being contacted by people who want to revoke their signatures on membership cards that supported Ryan Cleary's breakaway group.

"It's become very clear that harvesters are not buying the hollow agenda of anger and division with no plan that FISH-NL is trying to sell," said Sullivan.

Fish harversters sign up for membership in the newly formed Federation of Indpendent Seafood Harvesters during a meeting in October. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The release states the "surge" in requests to revoke signatures "comes at the same time as Cleary questioned whether there should be an inshore northern cod fishery at all this year."

"FFAW has the strength and experience," Sullivan said in the news release. 

"Mr. Cleary has no plan, no experience and no resources to ensure fish harvesters have the representation they need."

'Propaganda'

Cleary said the claims leveled on Monday were "total, 100 per cent, FFAW lies and propaganda."

He said he has not seen any indication that harvesters were revoking their signed support, and claims there's no reason for any fisherman to take back their signatures.

He told CBC News on Monday night that if FISH-NL receives signed support from more than half the province's fish harvesters, it will force a vote at Newfoundland and Labrador's labour relations board between FISH-NL and the FFAW.

"Why would anybody sign a card to revoke, when all this is going to do is force a vote and more debate?" he said. "That's a good thing." 

Ryan Cleary began his campaign to create a breakaway fishing union in September. (CBC)

He said his effort to register FISH-NL has caused more debate about representation in the province, and claimed that more fish harvesters were now hearing from the FFAW.

"The FFAW has been shaken alive," he said.

"We've got cards coming in every single day, the support is doing nothing but growing." 

With files from Geoff Bartlett