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NEWS RELEASE October 11, 2002

Shipyard Workers Federation calls on provincial government to drop foreign shipyard bids after British Columbia shipyard beats foreign competition to win BC Ferries' contract with lowest cost to refit Queen of Coquitlam

It's time for the provincial government to drop foreign shipyards from tenders for the refit and construction of BC Ferries ships following the awarding of the contract to refit the Queen of Coquitlam to a BC shipyard, says the Shipyard General Workers' Federation.

Federation president George MacPherson says the fact that a BC shipyard has beaten foreign shipyards in China, Korea, Singapore and the United States should convince the BC government to drop its plans to seek foreign bids for four other refits and construction of several new ferries.

"Why on earth would the government and BC Ferries continue to try to give BC jobs away to foreign countries when BC shipyards have proven that they not only offer the lowest price but also keep jobs and investment here, with BC workers paying BC taxes?" MacPherson asked. "It didn't make sense to ask foreign shipyards to bid in the first place and now that the results are in and BC is cheaper, it's just ridiculous to keep putting out bids to foreign countries."

BC Ferries recruited foreign bids in July for the refit of five ferries and construction of one new ship, for a total estimated contract value of $175 million. BC Ferries has also issued a tender to nine shipyards in five countries, including Japan, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and Canada, for a new 125-vehicle Bowen Island ferry worth an estimated $30 million.

MacPherson said the low bid by Vancouver Shipyards, owned by the Washington Marine Group, and a poll released by the Shipyard Federation in September that showed 90% of British Columbians say it is important for the province buy goods and services locally should be enough to convince the Liberal government to return to previous policy of refitting and constructing BC Ferries ships in BC.

"It's only common sense that BC taxpayers' dollars be spent in BC to stimulate our economy and create jobs," MacPherson says. "We urge Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Judith Read to change course and work with us to strengthen the BC shipbuilding industry so that the whole province benefits."

For more information, contact George MacPherson at 604-254-8204.

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