Marystown mayor surprised by Kiewit’s decision to withdraw shipbuilding contract bid

Daniel MacEachern
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Marystown Shipyard — Transcontinental Media file photo

The mayor of Marystown says he’s surprised and disappointed that Kiewit Offshore Services has withdrawn from the competition for a national program to replace navy and coast guard ships.

Mayor Sam Synard said today he was told Friday that Kiewit, which owns the Marystown shipyard, had withdrawn its name from the running to be one of two “centre of excellence” shipbuilding yards, part of a $35-billion overhaul of Canadian maritime infrastructure.

“What they said … is that they were sort of stretched with human resources trying to get a qualified bid team on the job. They’ve almost become too successful, to some degree,” he said. “It’s a strange thing to say, but Kiewit is the major player now in Long Harbour, they’re going to be the prime contractor for the Hebron job, the (gravity-based structure) job. I’m sure they’re going to look at the Lower Churchill. So they’ve become probably the biggest single contractor in the province.”

Synard said while the community had high hopes to land the work, he said Kiewit had to make a tough business decision.

“We’ve got a good relationship with Kiewit officials. They’ve been very good to our community,” he said. “I expect their right to make business decisions, that’s their prerogative. They’re good at what they do, they’re a great business. They’ve been in business 125 years and they’ve never had a losing year; that says a lot about how they manage their company.”

But the president of the local Canadian Auto Workers branch, Wayne Butler, was much more critical of Kiewit’s decision.

“We fought hard as a union. We fought hard to ensure that Kiewit was recognized as one of the shortlist bidders on this whole project,” he said. “It was a project that certainly would have ensured not only the future of the yard in Marystown but the future of the community in Marystown. It certainly would have been a big benefit to the province itself.”

Organizations: Kiewit Offshore Services, Canadian Auto Workers

Geographic location: Marystown, Long Harbour, Hebron

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Recent comments

  • Tito
    April 13, 2011 - 06:56

    I have to agree with Mr. Synard here. Praise goes out to Kiewit for recognizing where wins can be obtained. As stated in the article, Kiewit has A LOT of work on the go in the province and a nice chunk of that work will trickle to Marystown. I don't take much merit in Wayne Butler's opionion on the matter as he is just towing the usual union lines here. The union should really look at getting some new blood, for some new approaches, in place. Although it is not mentioned here, Loraine Michaels should really try to comprehend the vast amount of work that Kiewit is facing instead of assuming the worst. There is no way that the shipyard would be running today if it was taken over by the NL government as a crown coportation. Leave it to the people that know how and when to win work.

  • Political Watcher
    April 13, 2011 - 06:29

    I can't blame Kiewit for moving on; the feds have been dragging their heels on the shipbuilding and changing the rules along the way. I am sure that each time there are changes in the contract that these companies incur millions of dollars in costs in editing and preparing their bids. How often can a company be expected to spend millions on preparing contracts only to be told that there alterations to the process? I would like to know just how much this company has spent on preparing bids for contracts that the Feds had no plans on ever seeing through.

  • True Newfoundlander
    April 12, 2011 - 18:37

    They don't want to stretch their labour resources. There is alot of work going on in NL now, most of which is being done by Kiewit (can you say monopoly) and adding to the work load will only increase the pressure and posible drive up Kiewits operating costs. If they say they can't manage the shipyard why don't the government step in and get someone that can. It is time for some strong leadership in this province and the Provincal government to step in and help secure some of this 35 billion in work. Is it just me or is this a giveaway. Make no wonder Danny didn't want to attend the dinner in his honor.Just remember people are flying all around the country and beyond in search for work. Final note of course Kiewit is being nice, everyone is nice when they are trying to pull the wool over someones eyes. Don't give up Wayne.

  • nasty nate
    April 12, 2011 - 17:41

    Now we have a mayor thinking that they should dictate terms and conditions to a private employer. No wonder the island is considered a bad bet for business to set up shop.

  • MBC
    April 12, 2011 - 17:30

    Sam, you say Kiewit is good for your community. Most of your workers are making a living in Alberta. Is that thanks to Kiewit? Also, didn't NL taxpayers give all the assets to Kiewit for $1.00 ? They should be good to the community.