George MacPherson

Interviewed by Phil Legg

The interview begins with George’ s early life, apprenticeship, and reasons for moving from the east to the west coast, moving on to a more general discussion of the Canadian shipbuilding industry and his experience of labour organizing in that industry. George discusses building B.C. Ferries, icebreakers, cancellation of the Polar 8 ship contracts, and the frequent negative impacts of federal government political decision-making on the shipbuilding industries in B.C. and on the east coast, including use of EI programs to phase out parts of the industry. He fills in many of the details of how the industry was able to continue, and how the type of work changed over time. He points out the current tax incentives that allow offshore companies to do work at a better Canadian rate than local companies. Toward the end of the interview, George discusses the current state of the marine shipbuilding industries, the unions involved with it and his view of what could be done over the next years to keep the labour movement and this industry alive and well.

Keywords: Saint John Dry Dock; Irving; Marine Shipbuilders Local 506; Ron Ferguson; Vancouver District Labour Council; Federal government rationalisation of industry; Burrard Dry Dock; Polar 8; Versatile Pacific; Panamax floating Dry Dock; POWA program; Washington Marine Group, C-SPAN; Frigate program; Fast Cats; Vancouver Shipyards; Allied Shipyard; Vancouver District Labour Council; apprenticeship

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North Vancouver Museum and Archives, 213-1-11. Mary Shaughnessy photo.