Kinngait hamlet workers still waiting to strike, 3 months after voting to stop work

No word on whether industrial relations board has ruled which workers are eligible to strike

A strike by hamlet workers in Kinngait was set to begin Nov. 22 but has since been put on hold as the union and municipality wait on Canada’s Industrial Relations Board to rule which jobs are essential or non-essential. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Meral Jamal

Hamlet workers in Kinngait are still waiting to strike, nearly three months after their union issued a strike notice.

A federal conciliator was unable to bring the union and municipality together in a deal in October. That spurred the 24 workers, members of the Nunavut Employees Union, to vote nearly unanimously for strike action on Nov. 7.

The strike was set to begin Nov. 22, but was put on hold while the union and municipality wait on Canada’s Industrial Relations Board to decide which jobs are essential and ineligible to strike, and which are non-essential.

Union president Jason Rochon said a board hearing was to take place by the end of January, according to a message shared across the union’s social media pages.

He would not confirm whether a hearing has since taken place or if a decision has already been made. The industrial relations board did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for an update.

In November, Rochon said the municipality wants 20 of the 24 workers’ jobs to be considered essential, including water and sewage services, garbage pickup, snow-plowing and administrative services.

Pitseolak Pishuktie, the union local president in Kinngait, said the workers impacted “are just waiting” for the board to release a decision.

“The hamlet is not communicating right now,” he said. “We don’t know how they feel. It’s like they don’t care.”

Hamlet workers have worked without a collective agreement since March 2020.

According to the union, among the issues separating the two sides is the hamlet’s insistence that it should get to decide if and when workers can go hunting when a harvesting opportunity presents itself.

The union also said that the municipality’s final offer to increase wages by 1.6 per cent per year over five years does not match current levels of inflation.

“Hopefully [the hamlet] decides to change their mind [about the agreement],” Pishuktie said.

“We hope to receive a decision from the industrial relations board as soon as possible.”

Kinngait senior administrative officer George Luhowy did not respond to a request for comment from Nunatsiaq News.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by unionists on

    The essential service are supposed to be in the contract at the beginning in case of lock out.


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