NEWS RELEASE April 4, 2005
BC SHIPYARD GENERAL WORKERS' FEDERATION
BC Shipyard Workers Federation charges that BC Ferries will award construction of new $35 million Bowen Island ferry to Polish shipyard and withhold announcement of decision until after May 17 provincial election; Federation files Freedom Of Information request to see if Premier Campbell, Transportation Minister Falcon asked for delay
VANCOUVER – The BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation is charging that BC Ferries will build a new $35 million Bowen Island replacement ferry in Poland but is deliberately delaying announcing that decision until after the May 17 provincial election.
And the Federation has filed a Freedom Of Information request with the offices of Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon to see if they asked BC Ferries to withhold until after the election the announcement that a Polish shipyard will be given the contract instead of one of two BC shipyards which bid on the job.
George MacPherson, president of the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation, says BC Ferries has previously stated that the contract for a new Bowen Island ferry replacement would be awarded in January or February but it is now saying there will be no announcement until this summer.
“We are very concerned that BC Ferries would once again export BC jobs and investment to a foreign country and that BC Ferries is delaying this decision until after the provincial election in order to avoid another controversy for the BC Liberal government,” MacPherson said.
The Federation vigorously fought a September 2004 BC Ferries' decision to build three new Super-C Class ferries in Germany at a cost of $542 million, saying BC would lose 2000 direct jobs and up to 4000 indirect jobs at BC shipyards and shipyard suppliers. Now MacPherson said he fears it is happening all over again, with the Polish Remontowa shipyard being favoured over North Vancouver 's Washington Marine Group and Allied Shipbuilders.
“This ferry should be built in BC, not Poland , and it should have been already announced by BC Ferries – we want to know what is going on and why,” he added. “The BC Liberal government was responsible for allowing the Super C-Class ferries to be built in Germany and we will also hold them accountable if this ferry project goes to Poland .”
MacPherson said newspaper reports in August and September 2004 quoted BC Ferries as saying the contract would be awarded in January or February. A BC Ferries “Project Update” released on October 29, 2004 said the final selection and contract signing with the shipyard chosen to build the new ferry was “expected in early 2005.”
“It's pretty obvious that Premier Campbell does not want to deal with another blow to BC's shipyard industry and another sell-out of BC workers' jobs until after the election but if a Polish shipyard is getting the job, tell British Columbians and let them decide if that's acceptable,” MacPherson said.
MacPherson said that in February 2003 BC Ferries cancelled an international tender to construct a replacement Bowen Island ferry after Vancouver 's Washington Marine Group was the low bidder. And in August 2004 BC Political Insider , a political subscriber-only publication, reported that BC Ferries had decided to build new small ferries to replace existing vessels serving the Gulf Islands in Poland .
For more information : Call George MacPherson at 604-254-8204 or cell 604-220-3291 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, at 604-844-7827 or cell 778-896-0964. For background, go to www.bcshipyardworkers.com