Kinngait municipal workers set to strike after breakdown in negotiations

Union says nearly all members voted in favour of strike action after Nov. 22

Hamlet workers from Kinngait say they will will go on strike after Nov. 22 if a new contract can’t be negotiated with the municipality. (File photo by Emma Tranter)

By Meral Jamal

Hamlet workers in Kinngait are set to strike after Nov. 22 following a breakdown in negotiations for a new contract with the municipality.

Twenty-four workers are members of the Nunavut Employees Union, which is part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and represents them in negotiations with the municipality, according to a news release from PSAC.

The employees have worked two-and-a-half years without a contract, after the previous deal expired on March 31, 2020, the union said.

Close to 100 per cent of the workers voted in favour of strike action in light of key outstanding issues with hamlet management, the union said in its release Monday.

The union would not provide the exact number of workers who voted in favour.

It said the key issues include the hamlet insisting it should get to decide if and when workers can go hunting when a harvesting opportunity presents itself.

Another issue was management’s final offer to increase wages by 1.6 per cent per year over a five-year deal.

This does not match the current levels of inflation, according to PSAC North regional executive vice-president Lorraine Rousseau.

The union said its members provide the hamlet with water and sewage services, garbage collection and other services.

“We, the union are fighting to reduce the impact of inflation on workers, as the cost of living continues to increase, especially in the context of the North where prices were already relatively higher than the rest of Canada,” Rousseau said in an email.

“Economic increases to salary per year are not acceptable to offset the increasing cost of living in Nunavut.”

“Not just fair wages, workers should be able to thrive!” Rousseau added, saying a 1.6 increase especially attacks female workers who are “the main source of income of a family unit.”

Recent data from Statistics Canada shows a five per cent annual increase in prices in Iqaluit from 2021 to 2022, with inflation expected to be higher in other remote communities in Nunavut, including Kinngait.

In its negotiations, PSAC regional political communications officer Yusur Al-Bahrani said the union is seeking wage increases of two per cent retroactive from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021 and from April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022; and 3.5 per cent retroactive to April 1, 2022.

As well, it wants a 3.5 per cent annual wage increase effective April 1, 2023, and another 3.5 per cent raise effective April 1, 2024.

“All numbers are less than the national rate of inflation in those years and forecast inflation for future years,” Al-Bahrani said in an email.

The union said a federal conciliator was appointed for negotiations over three days in October, however the two sides were unable to reach an agreement then.

Contacted by Nunatsiaq News, Kinngait senior administrative officer George Luhowy declined comment.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Putting this out there on

    Quickest way to get better pay and work conditions is to stop delivering water and sewage pump out to the Mayor, Counsel, and the one with the really power the SAO. that would get their attention real quick. dont even need to do a full strike.

    20
    5
  2. Posted by Molly Maguire, Iqaluit. on

    Fight for it folks you have a tough job in tough conditions !
    There is plenty of money when the Inuk big shots go for meetings or go to Europe.
    Your jobs are amongst the most important in our communities.
    Teachers get good money for a 9 month work year, also good pensions. Just the way it goes.
    Stand strong with each other, it is the only way.

    22
  3. Posted by lol PSAC on

    where was this strong stance from NEU for the Gn contract? on account of the pay cut we just took i have lost 50% of my division with no new hires in sight

  4. Posted by Psac member on

    Psac has better influence with their government employees union. I am from a different community but we are asking for the same benefits as they (Kinngait) are. We don’ didn’t even get Covid pay like the GN workers did. And they ate already getting a good sales salary. I don’t get it.

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