City seeks court injunction

Iqaluit goes to court so contractors can move garbage without union aggression.



IQALUIT — The City of Iqaluit wants a court injunction so garbage can be moved to the dump without striking workers interfering.

Two contractors have told the city they won’t move any more garbage unless union members stop threatening them and vandalizing their vehicles.

“You mean their feelings are being hurt? Their egos are being bruised. My heart bleeds, big time.

Those contractors are thieves.”

— Jean-Francois Des Lauriers, union leader

Unionized city workers have been off the job since April 17. Since then, garbage has been piling up.

Under an order from the Nunavut Department of Health, the city had until today to move the mound of trash that residents have been depositing beside City Hall.

But Mayor John Matthews said contractors ran into trouble with picketers when they tried to take the garbage to the dump.

“There was a lot of verbal abuse, threatening, intimidation towards drivers,” Matthews said.

The court injunction, which was to be sought June 28, would allow contractors access to the dump without harassment or intimidation, Matthews said.

The court is expected to issue its decision today or early next week.

Jean-Francois Des Lauriers, the vice-president of the union representing the city’s striking workers, has little pity for the contractors.

“You mean their feelings are being hurt? Their egos are being bruised? My heart bleeds, big time,” he said.

“Those contractors are thieves. They have been scabbing on those workers for the past two months. They had made a solemn promise to those employees… that they would not cross their picket line. That was Tower (Arctic), BBS, and Bob Hanson. They had promised. They had given their word of honour.”

Des Lauriers said the union hasn’t prevented traffic from going to the dump — just slowed it down a little, so they could inform people of the workers’ plight.

He said he admires the restraint striking workers have shown while watching contractors come in and do their jobs.

“It’s like having somebody come in your house and steal money from you. What kind of reaction would you have?”

Last week the union released a document it claimed proved the city planned to force a strike months before it occurred. The document contained a sentence stating “the city challenge a possible intransigent union to a strike while we regroup and rationalize.”

Matthews said the document was not secret and has been available to union members since it was presented in February.

“The remark was completely taken out of context,” he said. “They didn’t do their homework. It was one person’s response to a questionnaire and it was rejected out of hand when we had the discussion in our workshop because that wasn’t the way to go.”

Des Lauriers disagrees.

“The statement was found on a working document and… then it is found on the final cut on the second document which was the strategic plan. So it made the final cut,” he said.

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