Massive Shipbuilding Order Good News for Canadian Shipyards

February 7, 2011, 4:40 PM EST

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With the federal government poised to select two Canadian shipyards to build a massive order of new government vessels, the CAW says its member shipyards in Halifax and Marystown are well positioned to win the work.

The federal government is expected to award later this year an estimated total of $33 billion for two shipbuilding packages: one to assemble frigates, destroyers and patrol ships and the other for non-combat vessels, including a new polar class icebreaker.

CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1 represents workers in the Halifax shipyard, while CAW/MWF Local 20 represents workers in Marystown, Newfoundland

"Our members in the shipbuilding industry have survived through some very lean times and continue to perform high quality work," CAW Atlantic area director Les Holloway said. "Winning these government procurement contracts is critical to not only the development of a Canadian shipbuilding industry, but also to the development and growth of these communities."

"The CAW's successful shipbuilding campaign was launched years ago in an effort to rebuild and develop Canadian shipbuilding," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This campaign raised the profile of the importance of the industry to the point where Canadian workers and communities will reap the benefits."   

"This is an important opportunity to create jobs," said CAW/MWF Local 1 President Karl Risser. "We feel we're ready to compete for this work, which will help provide much needed stability to an industry and this shipyard which has been vital to the community of Halifax for 120 years."

Wayne Butler, president of CAW/MWF Local 20 in Marystown said that the Marystown shipyard welcomes the opportunity to compete for the work, which he called the shot in the arm the industry needs to develop and grow.

"It's critical, however, that these contracts are awarded on the merits of the competition and not based on political considerations alone. I do feel this is a positive step and one that should revitalize an industry which has had its share of ups and downs. In the end it should ensure a bright future for shipyard workers both in Halifax and Marystown," Butler said

The federal government is expected to make a decision on which shipyards will be awarded the work by August or September.

For years Canadian shipyard workers have not had the government support needed to match strong pressure from heavily-regulated foreign shipbuilders, in countries like Norway, South Korea, Germany and the United States.

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