May 22, 2019
HALIFAX – Marine Workers Federation (MWF) Unifor Local 1 members at the Halifax Shipyard who ran the Ships Stay Here campaign are relieved after the federal government announced a contract award for two additional Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) to Irving Shipbuilding, Inc. for the Canadian Coast Guard.
“We fought for what was promised, which was an end to the boom-bust cycle in Canada’s shipbuilding industry,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Our members held the government to account on the promises made in the National Shipbuilding Strategy and we’re proud their hard work, strong track record and skill is being rewarded. We are thankful the Trudeau government heard our members’ concerns and responded with a strong plan to protect Canadian jobs.”
Unifor’s Ships Stay Here campaign began after the federal government reallocated Halifax-class ship maintenance work traditionally done at the Halifax Shipyard. Without the maintenance work to bridge between the two large fabrication contracts won by Irving Shipbuilding, there would be three or more years without enough work to sustain the current workforce, let alone continue to attract and build capacity at the yard.
“With a years-long gap, we knew there would be layoffs and we’d lose those who were just starting their shipbuilding careers,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “These newer hires represented the most diverse group in the yard including young workers, women, workers of colour and aboriginal workers.”
In October, Unifor members covered the city with lawn signs, marched to City Hall where a resolution to support the campaign was also passed, and signed thousands of letters to local Members of Parliament highlighting the issues caused by a gap in work at the yard.
“We’re very proud of our team and the huge support we got from the public,” said Ryan LaPointe, Unifor-MWF Local 1 President. “Our campaign was successful and in the end it’s a win for us, for Halifax and for the whole province.”