Letter to Editor: Shipyard makes diversity strides

​The below letter to the editor from Kevin McCoy, president of Irving Shipbuilding, was published in the October 31, 2017 edition of the Chronicle Herald.

“Women’s complaints spark feud” (Oct. 21 article by Chris Lambie) presents an inaccurate picture of the workplace culture at Halifax Shipyard, and unreasonably diminishes the fact that the Nova Scotia Labour Board dismissed the complaint and expressed that the actions taken by the Halifax Shipyard were reasonable and appropriate. 

Over the past few years, we have worked with labour, industry and community partners to create opportunities for under-represented groups in shipbuilding, and to ensure these individuals are welcomed and supported in the workplace.

Since 2015, the number of tradeswomen working in the shipyard has more than doubled from 25 to 67. In total, more than 185 women work at Halifax Shipyard.

Through our partnership with Women Unlimited, we provide tuition-free welding and metal fabrication programs at the Nova Scotia Community College exclusively for women. Sixteen graduates from the first class are already working at Halifax Shipyard, and the second class is in school. A similar program, Pathways to Shipbuilding, is providing tuition-free training and employment opportunities for Indigenous students in metal fabrication.

As we diversify our workforce, we continue to create a workplace where all of our employees feel valued, respected and supported.

Two Halifax Shipyard tradeswomen attended Unifor’s Women’s Advocate program and are now specially trained workplace representatives who assist women with personal and workplace concerns and provide support for accessing community and workplace resources.

We are continuing to work with Women Unlimited and other community partners to improve the Halifax Shipyard diversity and inclusion strategy, which includes increased respectful workplace training.

There have been recent news reports about our upcoming round of collective bargaining with Unifor Local 1, and we will work hard to reach a new agreement. Halifax Shipyard will continue to work with Unifor Local 1 to increase diversity and inclusion at Halifax Shipyard, while proudly building ships for Canada for decades to come.

Kevin McCoy, president, Irving Shipbuilding