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NEWS RELEASE April 20, 2004


Provincial betrayal of BC shipyard industry to cost over 1,300 jobs, $220 million investment as BC Ferries moves to give foreign shipyard contracts to build two new vessels, say shipyard unions

Shipyard Workers' Federation says project will go to Germany , South Korea or Finland

VANCOUVER – The provincial government and BC Ferry Services are betraying the BC shipyard industry by giving a $220 million project that would create more than 1,300 jobs to build two new Super-C Class ferries to a foreign shipyard, says the Shipyard General Workers' Federation.

The Federation says it has learned that BC Ferry Services will award the biggest shipbuilding contract in recent years to a foreign shipyard in either Germany , South Korea or Finland , with no BC or Canadian shipyard under consideration.

“This is an absolute betrayal of British Columbia's shipbuilding industry by the government and it will cost BC more than 1,000 direct jobs, another 300 to 500 indirect jobs and up to $220 million in investment that our weak economy could benefit from,” says Federation president George MacPherson. The Federation, which represents shipyard workers in several unions, says 1,000 direct jobs created over three years would have a multiplier effect that would add between 300 and 500 indirect jobs as well.

“The provincial government is ultimately responsible for this BC Ferry Services decision and it should immediately demand that ships for BC ferries be built right here in BC,” MacPherson said. “What in the world are the BC Liberals thinking if they believe shipping provincial jobs and a $220 million investment to a foreign country is an economic strategy ? It's absolutely crazy that BC taxpayers would subsidize foreign shipyards.”

MacPherson said it has learned that BC Ferry Services will announce next week that it will only consider bids from foreign shipyards for the two huge ferries to be constructed. He said that even by conservative estimates, the project would create more than 1,000 direct jobs for two years and hundreds more indirect jobs.

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, but MacPherson says the government and BC Ferry Services clearly don't care what the public thinks.

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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