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NEWS RELEASE July 20, 2004

Shipyard Workers' Federation releases more evidence that province has secretly decided to build 3 Super C Class ships worth $500 million in foreign shipyard – BC Ferry Services has officially requested “duty relief” from federal Finance Department to import foreign built ferries

Shipyard Workers' Federation says 2000 jobs will be lost by provincial decision

VANCOUVER – The BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation released more evidence today of a secret BC Ferry Services decision to build three new Super-C Class ferries in a foreign shipyard – BC Ferry Services has asked the federal government to remove a 25% customs duty on importing foreign-built ferries.

A letter obtained by the Federation from the federal Finance Department states that it is “currently reviewing a request from British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BC Ferries) for the removal of the customs duties on imported large ferry vessels required for the provision of passengers and vehicle marine transportation along the coast of British Columbia .”

George MacPherson, president of the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation, says the duty is levied to encourage building ships and creating jobs in Canada. He said that asking for the duty to be removed is outrageous on the part of BC Ferry Services.

“BC Ferry Services and the BC Liberal government seem bound and determined to ruin the BC shipyard industry,” MacPherson said. “Not only are they intent of giving away 2,000 jobs and half a billion dollars in investment to a foreign country but now they want to dodge the duties set up to keep Canadian shipyards in business.”

The letter from the Finance Department sets a deadline of July 16 for submissions on the issue.

MacPherson said he is optimistic that the federal government will reject BC Ferry Services' request to be exempted from paying duty on foreign built ferries.

“We can only hope that there is a lot more common sense in Ottawa than there is in Victoria and that the duty on foreign built ferries will remain in force,” MacPherson said. “Why should the BC government be given an incentive to throw away provincial jobs and investment?”

On Monday the Federation revealed that BC Ferry Services would build three new Super-C Class ferries in a European shipyard, one more than previously known. Federation sources and other information indicate that construction of three Super-C Class ferries will be awarded to a foreign shipyard in either Finland or Germany very soon.

Copies of the Finance Department letter regarding BC Ferry Services' duty removal on foreign built ferries are available upon request.

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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