Vicki Berg stands in the Halifax Irving Shipyard. She is a fourth year welding apprentice and a member of Unifor MWF Local 1.
Trains, planes, automobiles and ships.
Unifor members proudly build them all.
Indeed, a multi-billion dollar federal government contract to the Irving Halifax Shipyard has meant good jobs for some 850 Unifor MWF Local 1 members, with more to come as work building the country’s navy ships ramps up. The work is part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) - something our union campaigned for over many years. The strategy is an attempt to avoid the boom bust cycle in the shipbuilding industry and includes contracts for both Coast Guard and Canadian navy vessels.
“We strongly believe Canadians should be the main beneficiaries of government procurement, thus creating good jobs here at home, like building world-class Canadian ships,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor President. “Our members are highly skilled and are proud to build these ships for our country and to be part of building the local economy.”
The shipbuilding contract has been a much-needed economic boost for the province of Nova Scotia as well as the Atlantic region. With slumping oil prices and the slowdown in Alberta (where many Atlantic Canadians commute to work), the shipbuilding contract is a bright light in an otherwise tough economic environment and equally tough job market throughout the region, said Unifor’s Atlantic regional director Lana Payne.
And it’s not just Unifor members at the Halifax shipyard who are benefiting from the contract. More than 190 companies have been awarded over $950 million in contracts as a result of the NSPS, including General Electric where Unifor members at that company’s Peterborough, Ontario plant are working on the integrated electric power and propulsion system for the Arctic patrol ships.
Hundreds and hundreds of workers employed by these companies are also benefiting from the shipbuilding contract. In addition, there are just as many spin-off jobs created in other sectors of the economy. At the Halifax shipyard, a total of 856 Unifor employees are currently working on NSPS and related projects. In 2015, Halifax Shipyard and Marine Fabricators hired 121 new Unifor employees, and recalled 325 former employees.