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NEWS RELEASE September 24, 2002

British Columbia shipyard beats foreign competition with lowest bid on BC Ferries' contracts to refit 5 ships; Shipyard Workers call on provincial government to drop new tender to foreign shipyards for Bowen Island replacement ferry

A British Columbia shipyard has beaten the foreign competition with the lowest bid in the first tender for the refit of five BC Ferries' ships, 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 plans announced Monday to seek foreign bids for a new replacement ferry for the Bowen Island run.

"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. Bids for the first contract, to refit the Queen of Coquitlam, closed September 20 and MacPherson says Vancouver Shipyards of North Vancouver is clearly the lowest bidder by a sizeable margin, meaning it should win the contract.

On Monday BC Ferries announced it was issuing 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 Vancouver Shipyard low bid and a Pollara poll released by the Shipyard Federation last week 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 the premier 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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