Nfld. & Labrador

Ryan Cleary's push for new fishermen union a 'raid' of FFAW: labour congress president

The president of one of Canada's biggest labour groups says he's justified in calling Ryan Cleary opportunistic for trying to start a new fishers union separate from the FFAW.

Hassan Yussuff says competing interests are a reality of union structure, not reason to break away

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, says Ryan Cleary is pursuing his 'own interests' by trying to create the FISH-NL union. (CBC)

The president of one of Canada's biggest labour groups says he's justified in calling Ryan Cleary opportunistic for trying to start a new fishers union separate from the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW).

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), wrote a letter to Cleary on Monday where he described the former MP's attempts to start a new union as a "raid" on the current FFAW membership.

Yussuff dismisses Cleary's claim that the letter was harsh and included personal attacks.

"He's trying to raid that union to create his own union for his own purposes, in my view," Yussuff told the St. John's Morning Show.

"We have a process in the CLC structure to address issues that members raise, and we have not received any complaint from the members of that union."

'I don't doubt that there's some conflict'

Yussuff said the discontent among FFAW members is understandable, but argues the CLC has to deal with similar issues of conflict of interest with the 52 member affiliations he works with every day.

Ryan Cleary shakes hands with a man outside of a meeting to discuss a new fisherman's union in Corner Brook on Sept. 19. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

He said the discontent among fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador can and should be resolved through the current union structure — and not through cutting ties with the FFAW and joining Cleary's proposed FISH-NL union.

"I don't doubt that there's some conflict from time to time," said Yussuff.

"The way to go about solving it is not to tell your members to break up their organization to join that one that Ryan Cleary decides he wants to create. If Mr. Cleary were to sit in my shoes and do my job, he would appreciate that complex issues can often be solved within the structure of organizations."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

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