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NEWS RELEASE June 7, 2007

BC Shipyard Workers Federation says federal Conservative government betraying shipbuilding industry - free trade deal between Canada and European Free Trade Association expected today could throw away thousands of jobs and hundreds of million of investment in BC and Canada

VANCOUVER – A free trade agreement between Canada and the European Free Trade Association expected to be announced today represents a federal Conservative government betrayal of BC and Canada’s multi-billion dollar shipbuilding and repair industry, says the BC Shipyard General Workers’ Federation.

The deal with the EFTA – which includes Norway, a major shipbuilding country – could cost BC and Canada thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in investment, says Shipyard Workers Federation president George MacPherson

And MacPherson says a federal announcement today to add $50 million over three years to a Canadian shipbuilding financing program is money previously removed from the same program and won’t do much to protect the industry.

“The federal government is betraying Canadian shipyard workers and the shipbuilding industry with a free trade deal with Norway that could see more ships built and repaired in a foreign country instead of here at home,” MacPherson said. “Norway has a significant shipbuilding industry that was heavily subsidized for decades and now needs free trade deals to sell its products to Canada.”

MacPherson said British Columbia has already lost nearly $1 billion worth of shipbuilding work because BC Ferries is constructing several new ferries in Germany and the new free trade deal – expected to be announced today by federal International Trade Minister David Emerson – could accelerate export of more jobs.

MacPherson is also worried that the next federal action will be to eliminate a 25% tariff charged for importing any foreign-built ship, which encourages shipbuilding in Canada.

“How do we as a country support our own shipbuilding industry when Canada undermines its workers and companies by giving foreign countries free access to our market?” MacPherson asked. “Why do we export jobs and investment to other countries, where neither their companies nor workers pay Canadian taxes?”

The European Free Trade Association want to eliminate Canadian tariffs of 25% that are charged on any ship built in a foreign country imported for use in Canada. The members of the European Free Trade Association do $11-billion of annual business with Canada.

MacPherson said Norway was one of the countries BC Ferries approached to build the three new Super C Class ferries worth $542 million that are now being constructed in Germany. That cost includes a 25% duty of about $82 million.

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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