Why a conciliator has been requested

Last week, the bargaining committee for the Halifax Shipyard filed a request for a conciliator in our negotiations with Unifor Local 1. ​We believe a provincially appointed neutral third party can assist us in restarting negotiations.

In the meantime it is important for you to understand how we got to where we are today.

  • In August 2017, Halifax Shipyard provided Unifor Local 1 with a Notice to Bargain. The bargaining committees for both parties scheduled thirteen days of collective bargaining between November 1 and December 31.
  • Halifax Shipyard’s’ bargaining committee negotiated with the Union bargaining committee over three weeks and presented two sets of proposals. The bargaining committee for Unifor presented an incomplete first proposal, causing a break in bargaining, and then did not provide a responding proposal to Halifax Shipyard’s second proposal, despite being requested to do so.
  • At this point, it became clear to Halifax Shipyard’s bargaining committee that outside assistance was required to move the bargaining forward

The Halifax Shipyard’s current proposal covers a range of terms and conditions, including what has been disclosed to the bargaining unit by the Union bargaining committee. We would like to set the record straight on what has been disclosed.

Seniority 

  • Halifax Shipyard’s proposals do not eliminate classification seniority, but they do address items such as trade flexibility and fairer access to vacation time for all shipbuilders, rather than just the most senior shipbuilders.

Work Breaks

  • Halifax Shipyard’s proposals do not eliminate break periods, but instead propose adding the morning break period to the lunch period to allow the employees a longer time for lunch. Employees would be paid for the additional 10 minutes added to the lunch period.

Sick Days

  • The Union has proposed paid sick days as part of its monetary package. As with many employers of hourly employees, paid sick days don't currently form part of their compensation package. The compensation package that our shipbuilders currently receive is very competitive, and on average they are among the highest paid tradespeople in the province. Our Journeypeople are paid an hourly rate including benefits of $45.24. That works out to $94,000 annually, before overtime. Typically, monetary matters are among the last to be discussed in collective bargaining.

Safety

  • The safety and security of our workforce at Halifax Shipyard continues to be a priority of the organization. Halifax Shipyard’s proposal only removes language  that is not required in the collective agreement, as it is in the laws of Nova Scotia.  We specifically told the Union bargaining committee the intention was not to reduce safety obligations in the Yard and we are prepared to discuss the Union committee’s concerns about our proposal in order to get it right.
  • We are proposing to improve the current safety language in the collective agreement by introducing a return to work committee that involves union representation for employees re-entering the workplace.

We look forward to working with the provincially-appointed conciliator and the bargaining committee for the union to reach a negotiated collective agreement.