P1310407Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh say the NSFL is very concerned with the federal government announcement about the privatization of work to Thales Canada. The Canadian subsidiary of French defence giant Thales has been awarded a multibillion-dollar contract to service Canada’s new fleet of Arctic offshore patrol ships and joint support vessels. They will provide in-service support for vessels under a private contract that could total $5.2 billion over 35 years. The private contract starts with an eight-year, $800-million service period.

It’s one thing for the Federal Government to spin that this contract has been awarded to a Canadian company but this contract was really awarded to a multinational corporation in a joint venture between Thales Canada Inc. and Thales Australia Ltd. Thales is a French company with corporate headquarters in Paris. It is a Canadian subsidiary of this multinational corporation and we have grave concerns.

We agree with the statement from the Union of National Defence Employees which said the government is relying too much on the private sector when it should be doing the ship service work in house. If past experience is any indicator, we know that companies who look to slash costs, usually cut jobs and that means fewer jobs.  We have heard it all before but we just don’t think the corporate leopard will change its for-profit driven spots. It’s not likely the government will be brave enough to enforce its good news spin.

It’s important that we all get to see what’s actually in the contract and how its written. My money is that such contracts will never see the light of day and the multinational corporate legal teams ensure it’s a win, win for their team and tax payers stand to loose in such deals.

We are deeply troubled by the claim that top security clearance will not be comprised and we have to  trust that the contract will conform to the highest standards of security for Canada. Do we actually trust that all the safeguards are in place? For the sake of us all we hope so, but again, once the horse is out of the barn it’s really too late and what is the penalty if a security breach happens?  We should be very concerned about the risk involved that security will be breached.

We are willing to take a wait and see approach on the reality of job promises and that the majority of work will be Canadian.  It’s our opinion that these privatization deals are really nothing more than a way for government to become less accountable and help the big players in their goals to become more profitable at the expense of a stable local economy. Contracting-out work isn’t good for the economy. Unionized jobs are better on many fronts, pay and benefits that actually build a strong economy, keeping safety at top of mind, ending workplace discrimination and many other things that should be viewed as an asset to a strong local economy. That’s an important aspect for the Halifax economy where much of this work will happen, or at least we hope those jobs will remain in Halifax and that it will all mean more jobs at the end of the day as promised.