National union calls on Iqaluit Housing Authority to stop using ‘scab’ labour

Thirteen unionized workers have been on strike since March 17

Unionized workers with the Iqaluit Housing Authority strike outside their workplace in Iqaluit Tuesday. The workers are seeking fairer wages — above the 1.25 and 1.5 per cent they say was proposed by the housing authority. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

By Meral Jamal

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is calling on the Iqaluit Housing Authority to stop its use of what it calls “scab labour” during the ongoing strike by unionized employees.

PSAC’s northern arm, PSAC North, has been working with the Nunavut Employees Union to negotiate a new collective agreement for the 13 unionized workers employed by the Iqaluit Housing Authority.

Their previous collective agreement expired in June 2020.

Negotiations for the new agreement broke down in August, and the workers went on strike March 17. Some of those employees were locked out on Monday.

“Workers in Iqaluit are fighting for decent wages for their families in the face of skyrocketing northern prices,” said PSAC national president Chris Aylward in a news release Friday.

“The employer’s egregious decision to lock out workers and then bring in scabs to do their work cannot go unchallenged.”

The employees affected by the strike provide a range of services to Iqaluit’s public housing, including maintaining heating, plumbing, windows and locks, and administrative tasks such as lease preparation.

The authority assured the public at the start of the strike that essential services will remain in place during the strike, but did not answer questions from Nunatsiaq News about how it’s doing that.

CBC North reported Wednesday that the housing authority is using replacement workers — or as PSAC terms it, “scab labour.”

The use of replacement workers is seen by some as a controversial practice in Canada because it weakens the effect of strike action. PSAC claims the authority is offering higher wages than the striking employees were being paid.

This results in longer and more difficult strikes, states the PSAC release.

“The Iqaluit Housing Authority should halt the use of scabs and come back to the bargaining table with a real mandate to negotiate better working conditions for the people who provide vital services to Iqaluit residents,” said Nunavut Employees Union president Jason Rochon in the release.

“Instead, they are proposing concessions that would lead to even more precarious work while paying scabs higher wages to do our work.”

The housing authority declined to comment when contacted by Nunatsiaq News.


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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Scabby McScabber on

    Great example! Bet those scab workers are actually being productive and getting stuff done, unlike, well…

    This proves it might be a good idea to switch to non-union workers altogether

    • Posted by Mr.Miyagi on

      Same issue with our school board from the south of y’all or probably worse. Unionized but they do not even show to work more than 1/5th of the year out of a 180 day school year. Plus they got their raises and are paid as much as a southern teacher, with the same benefits! Outrageous and seriously catastrophic for the future and our children in the now!

    • Posted by Scabie on

      You hit the nail right on the head, I absolutely agree with you!

  2. Posted by frank on

    this is funny in a way. when the collective agreement between the nue and govt of nu expired employees worked years without any collective agreement until last year. when it was finally finished, zero percent first year! 1 percent 2nd and 3rd to 5th year 1.5 percent! and 3.5 on the 6th year! zero percent was a total sick joke! then the 2nd year was another joke, 1 pecent, which are worth nothing since deductions are, and will always be way higher. thats exactly how valuable us hard working employees are to our employers. without us working, govt wouldnt exist at all, and yet, we’re pretty much worthless as dust!

    • Posted by Nothing has Changed on

      “without us working, govt wouldn’t exist at all” no they would just contract it out like they are doing with the labour they brought in. Nunatsiaq I would love to know how many of the “Striking” employees are are Red Seal trades people? Also how many of the contracted “scab” workers are Red Seal trades people? I am willing to bet the “scabs” are more qualified then the striking workers and are just the regular contractors housing brings in to do as and when work that the staff dont do……

  3. Posted by TMP on

    In this day and age where tender population’s sensitivities are so easily offended I’m surprised that such a pejorative word like “SCAB” with such hostile and mean connotations is actually acceptable to print.
    I am not in Iqaluit nor do I know what this dispute is truly about but even though 1.5% is a bit stingy with the ridiculously high inflation and cost of living these days, how can you blame someone who needs to put food on the table that chooses to replace a worker that doesn’t want to do the job for the wage they are offered.
    They are “replacement worker” and not scabs and they should not be demeaned with this label.

    • Posted by Scabs are Scabs on

      If you are willing to swoop in and try and undercut a fellow worker who is striking, a constitutional right to collective bargain, and help out ‘the man’ so he isn’t pressured to make decisions about the strike, you’re a scab. The best part is that the Housing Authority is most likely doing this without any proper tender having been done and for higher amounts than the union is seeking. It is a strategy so that the union workers literally run out of money and are forced to starve or accept a bad deal.
      In the south the union workers typically turn to vigilante style justice so anyone out here being a scab should be cautious.

      • Posted by As & When Standing Offers on

        You obviously do not know how Standing Offers Work. Housing like many other departments have As & When Standing Offer agreements with contractors to provide services when the LHO cannot complete the work.

        The funny thing is only one position was designated “essential” by the Union and Housing which was the Boiler Mechanic. Which makes me believe that they are the only tradesperson working for housing and they use Standing Offers to do all other qualified trade work.

      • Posted by John WP Murphy on

        Surprising that Nunatsiaq is willing to post this incendiary post but not my posts reminding the readers and strikers of the results of an executive led violent strike in Yellowknife

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        Need I remind readers and strikers about Yellowknife and its ending in the murders of 7 miners? It started with threats like the above followed by actions of strike members. Strikers be very aware of the comments made by people like this and executive leadership.

  4. Posted by Union Buster on

    ‘Scabs’ are people, too. I can’t believe that, in this century, simple negotiating doesn’t work.
    Try harder and be kind, we’re neighbours.

  5. Posted by Some Pejoratives Are More Acceptable Than Others on

    This Nunatsiaq News – pejoratives such as settler and colonialist are accepted, others are not. It is the way it is.

  6. Posted by Iglu on

    Message to the union reps who are advising the workers, and working through the media to try and gather support from the public. Publicize the wage increases and other benefits that your members are seeking so that we the public can determine if we want to side with you and the Iqaluit union members. To do otherwise seems sleezy and amateurish.

    • Posted by iThink on

      In situations like this it is rare for a union to succeed in winning public opinion. The perception being that unions protect the unproductive and undeserving while showering them with wages and benefits generally far above those of non-Unionized workers who work harder than them.

      As I see it, the public finds it easier to relate to the employer. Resentment and schadenfreude toward ‘the union’ is their more common impulse.

  7. Posted by Local 666 on

    Now if only these IHA workers could put as much effort into their real jobs than they are with this picketing stunt, maybe they would actually get some work done!

  8. Posted by S on

    Sadly and accurately, anyone who is a client of the IHA workers the NEU staff, or the NEU elected members knows how unproductive they are

    Anyone who lives in publuc housing in any community in Nunavut is well aware that the most significant barriers to improvements in housing circumstances are housing staff and LHOs

    As for NEU, any housing, hamlet, or GN employee who had direct or indirect dealings with NEU knows what an absolutely incompetent bureaucracy and lazy attitude prevails there. It’s pitiful, just pitiful

  9. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    maybe if this strike goes on long enough, the workers will get the wages they are fighting for.

    and the replacement workers will get all of the outstanding work orders completed that have been sitting for the last few months……..

    just maybe.

  10. Posted by Umingmak on

    The way that these big union thugs toss around insulting & demeaning names for those people who actually work instead of standing around whining is a textbook example of why we need to abolish labour unions in Canada.

    You’re not winning any support by trashing hard-working people while you sit around crying.

    • Posted by 867 on

      Imagine how progressive canada would be if 100% of our jobs were unionized. We’d be Cuba!


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