Iqaluit Housing Authority set to lock out unionized employees

Notice issued by authority escalates labour dispute; lockout to begin Sunday, but union members can begin strike Friday

The 23 unionized workers who are employed by the Iqaluit Housing Authority have been without a collective agreement since August 2020, when the previous agreement expired. (File photo)

By Meral Jamal

The Iqaluit Housing Authority has served a lockout notice to unionized employees seeking a new collective agreement. It’s the latest development in its ongoing labour dispute with about two dozen workers represented by the Nunavut Employees Union.

Union president Jason Rochon said the housing authority notified workers Wednesday that a lockout will come into effect Sunday, ahead of the new work week.

A lockout is when an employer closes a place of employment or suspends the work to be done by bargaining unit employees, according to Canada’s Labour Relations Board.

Rochon said the development will have little impact on employees who have been ready to strike, and who are legally allowed to strike beginning Friday after giving the housing authority a 72-hour strike notice on Monday.

“The members are staying positive,” Rochon said.

The 23 unionized workers who are employed by the housing authority have been without a collective agreement since June 2020, when the previous agreement expired.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Those employees perform maintenance work and provide administrative support.

“We’re ready for action and well prepared,” Rochon said. “We know what we deserve, we know how we’re being made to feel by the employer and we’re not going to tolerate it.”

Rochon said the union continues to call on Lorne Kusugak, the cabinet minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., and the corporation itself to take action against the housing authority and to order it to return to the negotiating table.

Talks aimed at reaching a new collective agreement broke down last August over differences between the wages offered by the authority as well as concessions to existing sick leave, vacation, and time off for union business provisions.

The housing authority declined Nunatsiaq News’ request for an interview about the lockout.


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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Of Course on

    Of course Iqaluit Housing cannot give its employees a pay increase that reflects the increase in the cost of living. To do so would bring demands for the GN to re-negotiate its agreement with all its employees. All GN NEU employees would demand pay increases that cover increases in the cost of living. Union agreements used to include COLA (cost of living agreement) clauses.
    Do some Iqaluit Housing Authority employees live in staff housing? Will they be locked out of their homes? Will they be required to pay rent from money they will not earn? Most people in Canada are already living pay-cheque to paycheque.
    This is a little like the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainians are fighting the Russians, but the EU and NATO are providing support because they know that if they don’t, they will be next. GN employees, unionized and not, will have to support the Iqaluit Housing Authority workers or they will continue to receive pay “increases” less than the cost of living.

  2. Posted by Umingmak on

    One of the union’s biggest issues here is that they reject the Authority’s proposal that public & staff housing rent be deducted directly from employees’ paycheques.

    This is a pretty absurd thing to reject. Most other Housing Associations in Nunavut have this policy, as do the Government of Nunavut and most municipalities.

    • Posted by Reality on

      We’ve heard this one before.
      Last time we learned that it’s not the automatic deduction of rent that the union and Iqaluit Housing employees are objecting to.
      The objection is the consideration of Public Housing Units to be Iqaluit Housing’s staff housing, and to Iqaluit Housing employees losing their Public Housing unit if they quit working for Iqaluit Housing.

  3. Posted by Concerned on

    IHA should be asking NHC for more money for running IHA. Their managers get great benefits, cheap staff housing and really good salaries. Locals and lower level staff do not receive the same benefits.
    The cost of living continues to increase and IHA offers peanuts to their staff. Good for IHA to strike. Make a stand.

  4. Posted by How many people work for IHA on

    How many employees actually work for IHA? At one time the union say 11 and then at another time 23. Which is the correct figure?

  5. Posted by Fed up? on

    Could be IHA is just fed up with their staff? 7½ hrs to a work day still many are getting away with putting in only 3 hours of productivity. Showing up half hour late, if at all, taking half hour coffee breaks and 2 hour lunches isn’t a good way to please your employer. Can’t blame them.

    • Posted by Way to common on

      I’m sure that goes for very department in the gn, it’s way to common

    • Posted by Umingmak on

      Having worked with an LHO in another community, I agree with you entirely. Most workers would rather take hour long coffee breaks and another hour for lunch, then spend 15 minutes in the lunch room prior to returning to work after each of them. Too much entitlement.

  6. Posted by Iglu on

    As usual, the union is stretching the truth. Are there really 23 union members working at IHA? And why did the union take so long to renew the collective agreement? I mean 2020, c’mon now. Thats almost as bad as the GN collective agreement timing. Providing half truths to the media does not reflect well on the employees for which the union represents.

  7. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Two questions: 1. Who is negotiating or controlling on behalf of the IHA? The funder? 2. Who is speaking for the actual members? Jason Rochon? A union executive member paid much more than the members?


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