Nova Scotia

Irving lays off 44 at Halifax shipyard

Dozens of Irving Shipyard workers were laid off Friday after several projects were completed.
Irving has yet to start negotiations on the details of the $25 billion shipbuilding contract it won in October. (CBC)

Dozens of Irving Shipyard workers were laid off Friday after several projects were completed.

The job losses are part of a regular cycle at the dockyards, but some were surprised that as many as 44 workers were released.

Irving laid off 83 workers in April.

Brian Johnson is a welder. He found out Friday he was out of work.

"This morning when we came to work, there were some rumours of layoffs, but that's normal every week. I didn't think that many people would be laid off," he said.

Johnson was working on HMCS Fredericton. He said he was worried, as he has a young son, but he was confident he would be back at work eventually.

"Hopefully in a few weeks. Maybe a month or two. I'm not sure," he said.

Projects completed

Mary Keith, spokeswoman for Irving, said work was completed on several projects, including a ferry vessel, a patrol vessel and frigate. That means many tradespeople were no longer needed.

The layoffs came at a time when the union representing 1,000 shipyard workers is negotiating a new contract with Irving.

"Current labour negotiations have no bearing on the 44 temporary layoffs announced today or on current and scheduled work on the Canadian patrol frigates," Keith said in an email to CBC News.

Workers said they don't know how those talks are going.

"Neither side really tells you anything, so you're kind of left in the dark. You get what you hear from the news and rumours in the shop and that's about it," said worker Steve Black.

Black added it was tough to be laid off amid news about the $25-billion shipbuilding contract the federal government awarded to Irving in October. The Nova Scotia government lobbied for the contract under the "Ships Start Here" banner.

"So ships start here, but the jobs don't, apparently," Black said.

Irving Shipbuilding and the federal government have yet to negotiate the initial work on that 30-year project.