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NEWS RELEASE February 1, 2005

BC SHIPYARD GENERAL WORKERS' FEDERATION

BC Shipyard Workers Federation will fight any plan by BC Ferries to build new Bowen Island ferry in Poland; Federation concerned that BC Liberal government wants decision where to build delayed past May 17 election date

Local shipyards can build ferry cheaper and create jobs and investment in BC

VANCOUVER – The BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation will fight any plan by BC Ferries to build a new Bowen Island replacement ferry in Poland and is concerned the BC Liberal government wants a decision on where the 125-vehicle ferry is built delayed past the May 17 provincial election.

Federation president George MacPherson said BC Ferries has short listed a Polish shipyard and two BC shipyards after soliciting bids from 14 shipyards around the world.

And MacPherson said the Federation believes the decision date is already being delayed by BC Ferries past the May 17 provincial election to avoid bad publicity for the Liberal government if the job goes to the foreign shipyard.

“We have already lost 2000 direct jobs and a $542 million investment on the three new Super-C Class ferries now being built in Germany , so BC shipyard workers can't afford to see even more jobs and investment go to a foreign country,” MacPherson said. “We will fight any decision to give away BC jobs to Polish workers and hold the government accountable.”

MacPherson said BC Ferries indicated in October 2004 that a decision would be made “in early 2005” but that now BC Ferries is saying a decision will be made “sometime this summer”, which means it will come after the May 17 election.

“The BC Liberals are very nervous about BC Ferries making another foolish decision to export jobs and investment out of the province right before an election and we suspect the government is pressuring BC Ferries to delay the final choice of shipyard until after the vote in case Poland gets the contract,” MacPherson said.

“We believe that BC shipyards are more than competitive and should get this construction job but the same thing happened with the Super-C Class ferries that went to Germany when a BC shipyard was not even allowed to make a final bid,” MacPherson said. “After that experience where we believe BC shipyards could have beat the German bid, we have no confidence that BC Ferries will treat local bids fairly.”

MacPherson said that in February 2003 BC Ferry Services cancelled an earlier international tender that Vancouver Shipyards was low bidder on to construct a replacement Bowen Island ferry. That ferry project, which was worth about $30 million, was re-tendered in 2004.

The three shipyards short listed are Allied Shipbuilders, Seaspan International, a subsidiary of the Washington Marine Group, both BC-based, and Poland's Remontowa shipyard.

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.

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