Statement from Irving Shipbuilding re: Use of International Contractors and Recruitment

To ensure Canadians are well informed, we want to provide more detail and perspective regarding media coverage of our hiring of an international contractor for installation of interior furnishings, such as the galley, living quarters, and washrooms, on the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) being constructed at the Halifax Shipyard. 

Commitment to Hiring Canadians:  Irving Shipbuilding currently employs 1,500 shipbuilders including 880 tradespeople.  We continue to actively recruit Canadians first – this is a central pillar to our recruitment strategy. More than 96% of our workforce is Canadian.  From time to time we will need to hire individuals for skilled positions with international experience in shipbuilding to augment our team.  Those hired from abroad will work alongside their Canadian colleagues to transfer expertise, and most will eventually become Canadian citizens and help to create a sustainable shipbuilding industry in Canada.

Contract with Gabadi, LC:  Irving Shipbuilding has over $1.2 billion in spending commitments with more than 250 organizations across Canada.  In some cases, we must look outside of Canada for experience and expertise to minimize risk and provide best value to Canada as we manage our shipbuilding program.  This is the case with our contract with Gabadi, LC, a Spanish company that manufactures and installs interior furnishings for shipyards around the world.  Here are the details:

  • On average Gabadi will employ between 40 and 55 workers for this project over a five year period.  Gabadi will hire Canadians for approximately 80% of the positions on the first AOPS ship, increasing to 95% of the positions on the sixth ship.
  • The small number of existing Gabadi employees are highly specialized and experienced in the installation of the interior marine furnishings at an efficient cost.  Gabadi will work with Canadian employees and subcontractors to transfer knowledge and enhance their skills.
  • Gabadi will work with Canadian suppliers to purchase tools or equipment necessary for their work on the AOPS ships and will ensure that 100% of the value of the contract is spent in Canada.

Agreement with Unifor Local 1:  The use of Gabadi on the AOPS Program creates efficiency, reduces risk, and provides best value to Canada.  In October 2016, we reached mutual agreement with our labor union, Unifor Local 1, that supports the success of the AOPS Program and makes sure that our 33 shipyard joiners, the trade that includes installing marine interior furnishings, are treated fairly. The following was mutually agreed:

  • All shipyard joiners will remain actively employed during the entire period that Gabadi is working in the shipyard and will continue to support our shipbuilding and maintenance efforts.
  • We offered to support existing joiners to retrain in another trade of their choosing to enhance their skills. Ten of the 33 joiners have opted to retrain in another trade, such as ironworker and pipefitter.
  • We offered existing joiners the opportunity to work alongside the Gabadi team to enhance their skills.

At Irving Shipbuilding, we have a proud history as Canada’s shipbuilder and our team is committed to providing best value to Canadians and delivering high-quality ships to the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy.

For updates on employment opportunities, our progress, and Canada-wide impact visit or follow us @IrvingShipbuild


Media contact:

Sean Lewis

Director of Communications

Irving Shipbuilding Inc.