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NEWS RELEASE February 19, 2003

BC Ferries kills tender to construct new Bowen Island ferry after BC shipyard has lower bid than foreign shipyards, says Shipyard Workers' Federation, calling move another provincial betrayal of BC shipyard industry that will cost BC jobs

VANCOUVER - BC Ferries has quietly killed a tender to construct a new 118-vehicle Bowen Island ferry worth an estimated $30 million after a BC shipyard was the lowest bidder in an international competition for the work, says the Shipyard General Workers' Federation.

Federation president George MacPherson says they have learned that BC Ferries has rejected the low bidder for the new ferry construction - Vancouver Shipyards - who beat out all other bids. Last fall BC Ferries issued a tender to nine shipyards in five countries, including Japan, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and Canada, he said.

"This is simply unbelievable - the government and BC Ferries are bound and determined to take jobs away from BC shipyards and BC workers and give them to foreign shipyards even when we are the lowest bidders - it makes absolutely no sense at all," MacPherson said.

MacPherson says it is the second time since BC Ferries and the province announced a new policy of inviting foreign shipyards to make bids on BC work that local shipyards have been the lowest bidders. Vancouver Shipyards also was low bidder on the first of five ferry refits, for the Queen of Coquitlam, beating out bids from China, Korea, Singapore and the United States last year.

A poll released by the Shipyard Federation in September of 2002 showed that 90% of British Columbians say it is important for the province buy goods and services locally, MacPherson said.

"The public wants shipyard work to stay in BC and we've beaten the foreign competition and we still can't get the government to promote our own local industry -- what will it take for them to see common sense?" MacPherson asked.

"The provincial government and BC Ferries should drop this idea of giving away jobs and investment through foreign tenders and get back to building and repairing BC ships in BC shipyards, with BC workers paying BC taxes," he said.

For more information, contact George MacPherson at 604-254-8204.

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