Hay River Council needs lesson in fair bargaining

Hay River councillors need to take a lesson in fair bargaining from recent settlements of labour negotiations in Yellowknife and Fort Smith, say the leaders of the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) and Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

In Yellowknife, conciliation talks and fair-minded bargaining averted a strike of workers at Avens—A Community for Seniors. While strike action was necessary in Fort Smith, respectful negotiations with an employer willing to end the dispute resulted in a fair settlement for workers at the Fort Smith Housing Authority.

Yet employer willingness to reach a settlement doesn’t seem to exist in Hay River.

“The Town of Hay River started off with ridiculous contract offers. Since the strike began, they’ve been more focused on busting the union and splitting the community,” says Union of Northern Workers President Todd Parsons. “The employer’s attitude is arrogant, counter-productive and the worst kind of labour relations.”

“Our members were able to avoid a strike in Yellowknife because AVENS management was willing to be cooperative and work with staff to reach a deal that worked for everyone,” says Jack Bourassa, REVP north for PSAC. “In Hay River, the mayor and council continue to entrench their position and refuse to bargain fairly at the negotiating table. Their position will only prolong the strike, cutting off important services for the residents of Hay River.”

The UNW and PSAC leaders say the Town needs to start thinking about how workplace relations will be poisoned following the strike, and get back to the table with reasonable offers to end the dispute.