Monday’s strike averted, GNWT, union head to binding recommendations

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The Union of Northern Workers announced early Sunday morning that plans for a territoriy-wide strike on Monday will be postponed.
Since Friday, the UNW and territorial government have sought to find an 11th hour deal that could impact 4,000 GNWT workers under mediator Vince Ready.

Dozens of Local 1 Union members were turned away from a meeting Saturday after organizers say capacity inside the UNW building was reached, frustrating many members. Brendan Burke/NNSL photo

A posting on the UNW website just after midnight Sunday stated that although mediation efforts over the past few days have not reached a tentative agreement, “the parties have agreed to submit their outstanding issues to Mr. Ready for binding recommendations.”

The statement goes on to say that as part of the parties agreeing to Ready’s recommendations that the planned strike for 12:01 a.m. on Monday has been called off.

While Ready says in the statement that the parties had made process over two days of negotiations, issues still remained between the two sides, including general economic increases, terms of agreement, and job security issues.

Facebook comments followed shortly after the posting Sunday morning which were mostly celebratory in nature.

“I’ve never been so excited for work on Monday in my life!” wrote Tara Rutherford, a senior land officer with the NWT Housing Corporation.

Others on the page noted how their sleep will be made easier knowing they will be able to go back to work on Monday.

The announcement follows a day of considerable anxiety among union members – many of whom showed up to strike preparation meetings over the weekend. Members of Local 12, which is made up of Stanton Territorial Hospital workers attended a strike preparation meeting Friday night and members of local 1, made up of most GNWT workers in Yellowknife packed two meetings Saturday at union headquarters and then Mildred Hall School, after people were turned away from the first meeting.

Sunday’s statement added that a report from Ready can be expected in 30 days and that there is a media blackout until binding recommendations are released.

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Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Working in Yellowknife, he covers education-based stories and general news but has also taken other beats in the past, including city hall and entertainment. He is a champion of the printed word and the importance of newspapers. As a board member of the United Way NWT and Rotary True North, he believes in the importance of civic engagement and community building. He spends his spare time with his boxer Sharona. Simon can be reached at (867) 766-8295 and editorial@nnsl.com.

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