Nfld. & Labrador

Head to head: FISH-NL challenges FFAW to public debate

FISH-NL's Ryan Cleary is challenging the leadership of the FFAW to a public debate, in the latest salvo between the two groups vying to represent the province's fish harvesters.

N.L. Federation of Labour vows to stand 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with FFAW

Ryan Cleary, president of FISH-NL, wants a public, province-wide debate with the FFAW leadership. (CBC)

FISH-NL's Ryan Cleary is challenging the leadership of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) to a public debate, in the latest salvo between the two groups vying to represent the province's fish harvesters.

"Fish harvesters deserve answers, honesty, and a clear vision for the future — not yet more FFAW lies and deception," said FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary in a news release on Monday.

"Most fish harvesters do not trust the FFAW, or, as the union is better known these days, the 'saltwater mafia.'"

'Outright deception'

Cleary wants a debate to quash what he calls the "smears and fear mongering" by the FFAW around several issues, including that FISH-NL supports an end to the northern cod stewardship fishery.

"That's outright deception," stated Cleary in the media release.

On Monday, FFAW president Keith Sullivan said the union is being contacted by people who want to revoke their signatures on membership cards that initially supported FISH-NL.

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

Cleary dismissed those claims as "total, 100 per cent, FFAW lies and propaganda."

There is no place in the labour movement for Ryan Cleary's divide and conquer tactics.- Mary Shortall

Fish harvesters have lost trust in the FFAW, Cleary said, and have raised several concerns, including over "the so-called shrimp slush fund … out-of-control fees and charges and a myriad of conflicts of interests."

"The union has mutated into a business that prospers as the fishery dies at its feet," Cleary said.

FFAW's labour ally

The FFAW is gaining the support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour in its ongoing war of words with FISH-NL.

The group, which represents 65,000 unionized workers, denounced Cleary in a news release on Tuesday.

Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says her members will stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with the FFAW. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"There is no place in the labour movement for Ryan Cleary's divide and conquer tactics," said president Mary Shortall.

"Our federation is committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with FFAW-Unifor members. We know there is strength in solidarity."