Canadian PM announces $35 billion shipbuilding program
WORKERS ACROSS CANADA are hailing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement of a $35 billion shipbuilding program under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Contracts totaling $33 billion will go to shipyards on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The remaining $2 billion has yet to be allocated. Among those who stand to benefit are members of Local 191 (Victoria, British Columbia) and Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia).
In October 2011, the Canadian federal government awarded a $25 billion contract for combat ships to Irving Shipyards in Halifax and selected Seaspan Marine in Victoria as one of two Canadian suppliers for an $8 billion contract to construct non-combat vessels. The NSPS construction program is projected to create more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs for Canadian workers.
In support of the program, Eastern Canada International Vice President Ed Power and Western Canada International Vice President Joe Maloney issued a joint statement, saying, “The IBB wishes to commend the federal government on the selection process and congratulate Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan Marine for their success. The Canadian Navy has an honored history in defending Canada overseas and at home, and we Boilermakers are proud to build, upgrade, maintain, and prepare ships for the women and men that serve us all.”
Seaspan has won the right to build up to nine non-combat vessels, 80 percent of which will be constructed at the Seaspan yard in Vancouver, British Columbia. Local 191 will perform finishing work on the vessels and will need to bring in new members to handle the increased workload, according to BM-ST Jim Fitzpatrick.
Concurrently, L-191 members will upgrade five Canadian Navy frigates over a five-year period. Each upgrade could require 18 months to complete. Approximately 90-120 Boilermakers per ship will be required, with a six-month overlap between ships.
“This is tremendous news for all of our members and their families for the next 20 to 25 years of steady work,” said Fitzpatrick. He expects to grow the membership by at least 100 members over the next year in response to the anticipated work demand.
On the east coast, Irving Shipbuilding’s $25 billion contract to build new combat vessels for the Canadian Navy over the next 20 years will involve subsidiary Woodside Industries, which employs members of L-73. BM-ST Kevin Chaisson said, “Lodge 73 is looking forward to working with Irving Shipbuilding to achieve their goals to build these ships on time and on budget.”
International Rep Richard MacIntosh, president of the Federal Government Dockyard & Trades Labor Liaison Committee and newly-appointed member of the British Columbia Shipbuilding & Repair Workforce Table Communique, noted that Boilermakers have a long history in the shipbuilding industry across Canada. “Boilermakers have built naval fighting ships during both world wars. Our members have also built some of the finest tugboats, ferries, and Coast Guard ships. We can be proud of that heritage and proud to play a part in fulfilling the shipbuilding goals under the NSPS going forward.”