Some workers at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax voted Wednesday to reject a tentative agreement after eight months of “tense negotiations,” the union said in a news release.

75 per cent of the members of Unifor Marine Workers Federation Local 1 voted to reject the tentative four-year agreement.

“This is not just about economics, it’s about respect for workers and fixing the workplace for members and they are clearly sending a strong message to Irving today,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in the news release.

The union said the rejected agreement provided salary increases of 1.5 per cent per year, but didn’t offer enough in other areas.

“The employer refused to move on providing any sick days for workers, despite the fact that managers at Irving Shipbuilding are entitled to paid sick leave,” the release said.

The local said it has served Irving with a 48-hour strike notice which means work on the multi-billion dollar federal contract to build Canadian naval vessels could stop by the end of the week.

Sean Lewis, a spokesman for Irving Shipbuilding, did not have comment when contacted Wednesday evening. He said the company would respond to the news Thursday morning.

Adam Hersey is Business Agent for Unifor Local MWF 1, which represents more than 800 shipyard workers in Halifax.

“Obviously our members have been frustrated, and we have seen unacceptable levels of workers being disciplined needlessly, and what was on the table in the tentative settlement did not go far enough to address the members’ issues in the workplace,” Hersey said.

The union says they expect picket lines to go up Saturday at 9 a.m.

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