News / Halifax

Shipyard workers reach tentative deal with Irving

The union representing more than 1,000 workers at the Halifax Shipyard has reached a tentative agreement with Irving after nearly a year of often difficult negotiations.

Karl Risser, president of Local 1 of the Canadian Auto Workers-Marine Workers Federation, said the deal was reached late Tuesday.

The details will be presented to union members for approval at a meeting Nov. 25, he said Wednesday.

“The committee has worked extremely hard to make sure that we maximize the benefits of our workers so we can attract and retain the skilled trades we need to build these ships,” he said.

Workers have been without a contract since December 2011 when the union entered into discussions with Irving Shipbuilding Inc. on a three-year collective agreement.

Irving Shipbuilding spokeswoman Deborah Page said the company is encouraged by the news and is looking forward to moving the process ahead.

Metro Halifax spoke to a union member outside the shipyards Wednesday who said it’s been a difficult year for workers who have been anxious for a resolution.

“The morale has been low while we’re waiting for this to come through,” she said. “Wages and benefits are a major concern, but so is trade flexibility, but we’re waiting. Team morale is down and we will all be happy to see this come to an end.”

Conciliator Ken Zwicker was hired to aid negotiations after talks between the two parties broke down in May.

Risser said his input was key in reaching the new agreement.

“We worked really hard for this,” said Risser. “We’ve put up a great fight. Now we’re in the process of contacting our membership and we’ll see what happens.”

Risser wouldn’t predict whether union members would ratify the deal.

“It’s hard to guess where the democratic process will go, but we’re hoping,” he said.

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