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NEWS RELEASE July 20, 2004 - 4:15pm

BC Ferry Services and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon “totally wrong” in claming BC shipyards could not build 3 Super C Class ships worth $500 million, says Shipyard Workers' Federation, calling it a “pathetic excuse” for giving 2000 jobs to foreign shipyard

VANCOUVER – Claims today by BC Ferry Services and BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon that BC shipyards would be unable to build three new Super-C Class ferries worth $500 million or to build them at a competitive price are totally wrong, says the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation.

“This is truly a pathetic excuse for a corporation and government that are giving away 2000 jobs and a $500 million investment,” says George MacPherson, president of Federation. “BC shipyards can easily build Super C Class ferries – we've built much bigger ships in the past without any problem.”

The remarks came after the Federation released a letter from the federal Finance Department showing that BC Ferry Services requested the federal government to remove a 25% customs duty on importing foreign-built ferries. After the letter was released, BC Ferry Services admitted it was planning on building the three ferries in Europe .

MacPherson also said that Vancouver Shipyards, an arm of the huge Washington Marine Group, had tried to bid on the job, a clear indication it was confident the job could be done in BC. But the company was excluded from the final bidding process and unable to present a firm price for the ships for BC Ferry Services to consider.

Falcon said today that “inefficient” BC shipyards would push the price up by $60 million, while BC Ferry Services Vice-President Mark Stefanson claimed that BC shipyards were unable to build vessels of that size.

“Mark Stefanson and Minister Falcon should be ashamed of themselves for misleading British Columbians about the capabilities of BC's shipyards and its workers. They know that we can build these three new ferries here in BC and they know that we should be building them here,” MacPherson said.

The fact the BC Ferry Services wants the federal government to drop the 25% duty on foreign-built ships shows that the European bids are not as low as the corporation is claiming, MacPherson said.

“The cost of these three ferries is half a billion dollars and we believe that without the 25% duty being dropped, the bids would not be competitive,” MacPherson said. “Regardless, we will never know if BC shipyards could have beat the European bids because the BC government let BC Ferry Services exclude local firms from the bidding.”

MacPherson said the BC government should order BC Ferry Services to reissue the bids and allow BC shipyards to fairly compete.

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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