Union leaders who represent 1,000 workers at the Halifax Irving Shipyard are applauding a move by Irving Shipbuilding to look for a new president.

The Canadian Autoworkers Union told CBC News that Irving announced company President Steve Durrell would be replaced as part of a corporate reorganization.

Durrell declined to comment. A spokesperson from Irving would not specify the reason for his departure, calling it a confidential matter.

Durrell is leaving just one year after the shipyard received the largest naval order in Canadian history.

"This is not, in our opinion, a bad decision that he has moved on," said Les Holloway, the union's Atlantic director. "We think it's a good decision."

Holloway isn't saying why there was friction between the boss and union leaders,

Shipyard workers are voting Wednesday on a three-year contract that would give them a 10% raise immediately and another 2.5% in January. But Holloway doesn't think those negotiations had anything to do with Durrell's departure.

"He wasn't at the table so I don't think that that is an issue that impacted it. It had to be some other issues. The relations had been strained over the last while."

Holloway said he hopes the change of command signals a desire for better labour relations that will make the eventual building of the ships a success. The yard is currently working with the Navy to finalize a design for the first ship.

Meanwhile, Irving said it could be months before it finds a permanent replacement for Durrell. Ross Langley, the vice-chairman of Irving Shipbuilding, will fill the role temporarily.