The union that represents Nova Scotia shipbuilders says it’s upset about a recent announcement from Irving that jobs at the marine fabricators facility in Dartmouth could be cut as they consider buying parts from international markets.
The company told employees last week it is considering a pilot project where they would purchase fully-assembled pipe sections overseas for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships instead of purchasing raw materials and assembling the pipes at the facility in Dartmouth.
Each Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel requires more than 17,000 pipe assemblies, and the pilot project could affect as many as 40 workers.
“So by far the majority,” said Unifor national representative Chad Johnston, who notes there are only 50 workers at the marine fabricators facility.
In a press release, Irving Shipbuilding said the pilot project would provide significant savings which would be shared with the Canadian government, and that anyone affected by potential cuts at the marine fabricators facility would be offered positions at the Halifax shipyard.
“These are still job loses out of the community,” said Johnston.
“The shipyard is growing irrespective of the work levels at the marine fab, and so they really are two separate collective agreements and collective entities.”
The union also questions why the decision was made now after years of putting effort into growing good jobs in the community.
“When work was threatened to leave this province and go to another province, both the union and the company worked very hard to encourage government at every level to maintain the work here” said Johnston.
“So now we’re quite disappointed to see the company voluntarily give up work that we’ve been fighting for collectively to have in the community.”
Irving declined an interview request about the pilot project and did not include any timeline for when these changes could take place in their press release, but Unifor says they’re being told it will likely take place at the start of the next quarter, in March or April.
“It’s never too late for a company to take sober second thought and to realize that a decision such as this is really not worth the savings,” said Johnston.