New Agreement at Irving Shipyards in Halifax, Nova Scotia

November 29, 2012, 2:55 PM EST

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CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1 members at the Halifax shipyard voted 70 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement on November 28, which provides wage gains, a new long-term disability plan and maintains seniority rights, among other improvements.

CAW/MWF Local 1 represents approximately 1000 skilled workers at the shipyard. On October 19, 2011 the federal government announced the Irving Shipyard had been awarded $25 billion in shipbuilding contracts.

The new five-year agreement, provides a 10 per cent wage increase in the first year (including five per retroactive and five per cent for this year). Next year there is a 2.5 per cent raise and 2.5 per cent in 2014 and three per cent in each of the following years.

The agreement also includes a new long-term disability plan and it maintains seniority rights.

"Our negotiating committee worked very hard to get a good deal for our members, one that increased benefits for workers and improves our ability to attract new skilled trades members to Halifax Shipyard to build new ships for Canada," said Karl Risser, President of CAW/MWF Local 1.

"Our campaign to build ships in Canada, by Canadian workers, for Canada has been going on for years. The competitive wage rates in this new agreement will help us to attract and retain skilled trades here in Nova Scotia," Risser said. "Our membership and their experience was one of the leading reasons Irving Shipbuilding successfully landed the bid to build the Navy's new combat fleet."

Workers at the shipyard are currently constructing nine patrol vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, an Irving news release states. Also underway are refits of seven frigates for the Canadian Navy. In addition, estimates call for the first set of vessels under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Arctic offshore patrol ships, to go into production in 2015.

CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway said ratification of the new agreement means that numerous upgrades at the shipyard will now go ahead.

"With these upgrades this yard will be a state of the art facility that's as good as any other shipyard in the world," Holloway said. He added there will be not only long-term benefits to the members of CAW/MWF Local 1 in Halifax, but also the surrounding community and future generations of workers.

Negotiations between the CAW/MWF and Irving lasted 11 months. 

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