Trade flexibility – Creating a modern and efficient shipyard

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Trade flexibility is an example of modernizing the way we work to deliver ships on time and on budget.

With the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) and Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) contracts providing the promise of decades of work for the Halifax Shipyard, we have the opportunity to be a global leader in shipbuilding. Our highly skilled employees are the key to our success.

In order to deliver these ships to the Government of Canada on time and on budget, we need to continue to modernize the way we work to ensure we meet these goals.

Trade flexibility is an example of modernizing the way we work. Trade flexibility allows a shipbuilder to perform skilled trades work beyond the scope of his or her original trade so that they can continue to progress their work seamlessly. For example, a shipbuilder with a red seal ironworking background could perform some welding duties if it were required to continue to advance his or her work.

Since introducing trade flexibility after the last round of collective bargaining, we have been working towards developing a skilled and agile workforce of shipbuilders. We haven’t always got our decisions on trade flexibility right, but we are getting better every day with your help and feedback.

Across the shipyard our performance is moving in the right direction, and we will continue to implement improvement measures.

We have seen a significant increase in our cost performance index (CPI) from construction of the centre mega-block on AOPS 1 to AOPS 2. This is a tremendous achievement and demonstrates that we are world-class shipbuilders who are improving performance ship over ship.

We believe that trade flexibility has a role to play in this performance improvement, and we will continue to see improvements as our workforce receives the training needed to progress their work with the full skills of a modern shipbuilder.

Recently, we rolled out a 40-hour rigging course and completed an 80-hour staging course as we continue to improve upon this new approach. This gives our shipbuilders important skill sets they need to build world class ships for Canada.

We are committed to getting trade flexibility right and we look forward to working with union leadership to do just that.