Nova Scotia

'Regrettable' layoffs hit Irving Shipbuilding

The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard will begin laying off part of its workforce by the end of September, the company announced Wednesday.

Company says not enough work until shipbuilding ramps up in 2015

The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard won the bulk of the federal shipbuilding contract in 2011. (CBC)

Irving Shipbuilding says it will have to lay off more of its workers next month while it carries out a $300-million modernization of the Halifax Shipyard, the company announced Wednesday.

The company said the expansion is needed to build Arctic patrol vessels and navy warships for the federal government under the $35-billion National Ship Procurement Program.

Irving Shipbuilding said it will begin work on the first vessels sometime in the second or third quarter of 2015. Irving officials told a media briefing on Wednesday that until then, it does not have enough work to keep its current workforce of 900.

Scott Jamieson, vice-president of programs at the shipyard, would not say how many will be laid off. He said Irving hopes to lessen the numbers by attracting more businesses to the yard.

The layoffs are expected to be completed by the end of September "followed by normal fluctuations," said Jamieson.

He said once work begins on the Arctic patrol contract, employment will ramp back up reaching a peak of 2,000 to 2,500 between 2020 and 2021.

"It is regrettable. We value our workforce. We will keep in touch with them. Hopefully people will want to come back once we have the shipyard which will be the most modern and offer long-term sustainable work," Jamieson said.

The company got a $260-million loan from the provincial government in March 2012 to assist with the shipyard's upgrades.

They include the building of an assembly hall and painting facilities.

With files from The Canadian Press