The Union of Northern Workers issued a strike notice for territorial government employees in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“I would like to confirm that the UNW has served strike notice today upon the government of the NWT for our large bargaining unit,” said Union of Northern Workers president Todd Parsons.
“We are giving notice that at midnight Monday, February 11, we will commence strike action for a full and general strike should we not be successful to reach a tentative agreement throughout negotiations,” he said.
“We need to send a very clear message to the employer that we are prepared to strike,” he said. “We mean business.”
Parsons delivered his remarks during a press conference at the union’s headquarters in Yellowknife. He insisted that the UNW has been working diligently to reach an agreement.
“We have been very clear several times that we have worked hard to try to avoid a strike,” he said. “We’ve offered binding arbitration, we’ve offered to accept the mediators report and to no avail and have not had our offers accepted.”
He also wanted to be clear that support is strong across all of their communities and the members are committed.
“We have a lot of strike support,” he said. “Our members’ number-one question is when to start a strike, not whether we’ll start a strike.”
Parsons has not ruled out reaching a deal with the GNWT during mediation talks scheduled for Feb. 8 and 9.
“I believe its a real possibility that both parties can reach an agreement in the two days we have set aside,” said Parsons. “If we do not get a deal through that process, we will take action.”
Should the strike take place, close to 4,000 workers will be affected and each would receive receive approximately $117 per day as compensation.
UNW members have been negotiating for a collective bargaining agreement with the GNWT since January 2016.