Nova Scotia

1,100 Irving Shipyard workers being temporarily laid off

One of Nova Scotia's largest employers has decided to send home most of its workforce. Irving Shipbuilding is temporarily laying off 1,100 workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 700 staff will remain on the job, with an unspecified number working from home

About 700 Irving Shipyard employees will remain on the job, with an unspecified number working from home. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

More than half of the people who work at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax and at operations across the harbour in Dartmouth have been sent home Thursday as a result of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on operations.

Kevin McCoy, president of Irving Shipbuilding, said 40 per cent of employees didn't show up for work on Thursday, and the company has been having a hard time getting supplies.

"We saw the anxiety amongst our workforce starting to show up in increased absenteeism as people were dealing with daycares shutting down, schools shutting down, concerns about family members," McCoy said.

The layoffs apply to the Halifax Shipyard, Marine Fabricators and Woodside Industries facilities.

Employees will be paid their wages until the end of next week, but the layoffs go to April 12.

McCoy said he had "no idea" how long industrial operations would remain on pause. He said Irving and the federal government — the shipyard's main customer — would reassess the situation each week.

About 700 staff will remain on the job, with an unspecified number working from home.

McCoy said he hoped to be able to eventually rehire the laid-off workers.

"This is important work we're doing for the nation here, we need every single one of them back," he said.

As of Thursday, there are five confirmed and nine presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

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