NEWS RELEASE June 28, 2006
Federal navy supply ship contract for $2.9 billion could go to British Columbia , creating 5,000 new jobs, says BC Shipyard Workers' Federation, but asks why Premier Gordon Campbell supporting navy building ships in BC but not telling BC Ferries to build new ferries in BC
VANCOUVER – The BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation welcomed today's federal government announcement that three new navy supply ships worth $2.9 billion will be built in Canada , saying that if BC shipyards win the contract more than 5,000 new jobs would be created.
But the Federation is asking why Premier Gordon Campbell is supporting building Canadian navy ships in BC when he won't tell government-owned BC Ferries, which is spending almost $1 billion building new ships in foreign shipyards, to do the same thing and build its ships in BC.
“We have a real chance of landing this huge supply ship contract and creating over 5,000 jobs here in BC, with local workers and businesses benefiting immensely,” says Federation president George MacPherson. “But we can't understand why Premier Gordon Campbell can support building Canadian Navy ships here in BC when the provincial government owns BC Ferries and allows them to build almost $1 billion in new ferries in foreign shipyards. It just doesn't make sense.”
MacPherson said the federal Conservative government's shipbuilding policy means that the supply ships will be built in Canada by one of four bidding companies or consortiums. One of those consortiums, SNC Lavalin Profac Inc., includes Vancouver Shipyards, owned by the Washington Marine Group. The successful bidder will win the contract to build all three ships, worth $2.1 billion, plus an $800 million maintenance contract for the life of the ships.
“We applaud Prime Minister Stephen Harper for insisting that these ships be built in Canada and we also are pleased that the provincial government is supporting the BC bid to win the contracts but we have to wonder how seriously BC's endorsement will be taken when Premier Campbell allows BC Ferries to build its own ships offshore,” MacPherson said. “Unfortunately it gives shipyards in Quebec and Atlantic Canada an advantage when our competition can say even BC Ferries doesn't build ships in BC.”
BC Ferries has commissioned three new Super-C class ferries worth $542 million from Flensburger Shipyards in Germany and is in final negotiations to build two new north coast ferries worth over $350 million in Europe .
MacPherson said that notwithstanding unhappiness with the BC government allowing BC Ferries to build ships in foreign countries, the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation will do anything it can to help the province land the federal supply ships bid.
“BC's shipbuilding industry and BC's whole economy would get an enormous boost from this contract, so we will do everything possible to try and win the contract,” MacPherson said.
For more information or copies of the poll results : George MacPherson at cell 604-220-3291 or 604-254-8204 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, at 604-844-7827 or cell 778-896-0964.