October 11, 2017
Halifax – Bargaining is set to begin in November with 800 Unifor MWF Local 1 members, who proudly build Canadian navy and coast guard vessels as part of a multi-billion dollar federal contract awarded to Irving’s Halifax Shipyard in 2011.
“Recent labour relations suggest we are facing a challenging round of bargaining to reach a new agreement with this employer,” said Lana Payne, Unifor’s Atlantic Regional Director.
The bargaining team is committed to improving the workplace and is concerned about unusually high instances of discipline imposed on members, the lack of any sick days, and improper handling of harassment complaints.
Unifor is also closely monitoring the employer’s reliance on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
When the Halifax Shipyard won the shipbuilding contract in 2011, Jim Irving credited the skill of its workforce.
"I think the fundamental piece is people. We've got a very good team. We've got great shipbuilders, tradespeople, men and women in the yard, dedicated and hardworking folks…,” said Irving, October 19, 2011.
Now the company is claiming it can’t find enough skilled Canadian workers to build the ships and yet there is a backlog of locally trained apprentices with lots of experience who are stalled in their progress to reach journeyperson status.
The union expects, given this is a major government procurement project, to see a transparent hiring process and a robust workforce training plan that includes a long-term investment in building up the skills of Canadian workers.