Nunavut Employees Union ratifies new contract with GN

The NEU had reached a tentative deal on a new collective agreement with the GN in February

Nunavut Employees Union president Jason Rochon said the ratified agreement with the Government of Nunavut is especially important in light of COVID-19. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Meral Jamal

Nunavut Employees Union members have voted to ratify a new collective agreement with the Government of Nunavut.

The deal affects more than 4,000 of the territory’s public servants — excluding teachers, who have their own agreement with the government.

The union and GN reached a tentative agreement in February. The two parties had been struggling to come to a settlement for years. Their last contract expired in September 2018.

The ratified agreement provides GN employees higher wages and an increased northern allowance.

Union president Jason Rochon said this is especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of our workers were on the front lines, in high-risk situations and stressful situations,” he said.

“We just wanted to push to make sure that we got back to the table, and we got a fair deal and that our members were compensated fairly for all the hard work that they have done in the pandemic and all these years.”

As part of the agreement, union members are getting retroactive raises, broken down to reflect a one per cent wage increase in 2019; a 1.5 per cent wage increase in 2020, a 1.5 per cent wage increase in 2021; and a 1.5 per cent wage increase this year.

They will receive a 3.5 per cent wage increase in 2023.

Employees, including indeterminate, casual and contract workers, will also receive a lump sum payment of $3,500 within 30 days of ratification.

The new agreement brings other benefits, including an increase to annual maximum dental coverage from $1,200 to $2,000 and 10 days for family abuse leave — five paid and five unpaid — as well.

“Everybody deserves an opportunity to get a good quality of life and get into a healthy situation,” Rochon said of the family abuse leave.

“I think 10 days are going to really help someone leave a situation where they might not be safe and have a good quality of life that will contribute to the territory.”

Other new benefits, include harvesting days, which the union is calling days for Inuit cultural pursuits, will now be paid. Union members will also get two paid discretionary days off instead of one each year.

The new collective agreement will be in place until September 2024.


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(41) Comments:

  1. Posted by quill on

    As usual, no mention of relief workers. They pay union dues but get absolutely no benefits out of it. The whole concept of relief employees was a gift from the union back in 2011 or 2012. I had been a casual employee. After relief employees became a thing, I had to work every holiday for regular pay and lost things like sick pay, dental, raises, any sort of job security, even though I work a regular schedule. Once, I asked about why that was okay, and they took away my schedule for a while and just called me in everyday. Thanks NEU!

    • Posted by Shortage on

      With a shortage for nurses take a position and help keep the Healthcare centers open. You don’t need to work casual.

      • Posted by Decolonoscopy on

        Yes! Or take a position as a shaman… decolonize health care!

      • Posted by quill on

        I’m not a nurse. I’m a low-level GN employee just trying to get by.

        • Posted by Upgrade? on

          Well, there’s the problem. Low-level employees are not in a competitive position and are easily replaced. Have you considered skills upgrade to to move into a more secure and competitive position?

          • Posted by quill on

            Or the GN and NEU can just treat all employees like human beings.

          • Posted by Baffled by Responses on

            I’m trying to figure out how anyone could have given this person’s reply a thumbs down. It is a simple statement of workforce fact.

        • Posted by Grateful on

          If you don’t have an advanced diploma or degree, you should be grateful for the job you have, as a government job nearly anywhere else in canada cannot be obtained without some level of postsecondary education. The promotion is yours for the taking if you have a unique skill set or educational attainment that sets you apart from the rest, all you need to do is apply. If not, it might be time to work towards a promotion. Nothing should come easy in this world. Good luck. This whole “pitty me” attitude doesn’t get us anywhere. Already too many unqualified people working GN jobs thanks to nepotism and Article 23 direct appointments, both casual and permanent.

          • Posted by Voice of experience on

            If you have an advanced degree you are likely incur much jealousy and resentment

            • Posted by Cultural BS on

              That kind of thinking will slow down the progress of all nunavummiut, not just Inuit. *facepalm*

    • Posted by sjmcc13 on

      2 things.

      Relief workers get the same pay Increases as everyone else. And will be getting retros for the periods already worked just like everyone else.

      Relief are not supposed to be full time employees, with regular schedules. They are suposed to be exceptions called in when needed, iirc the last agreement stated if they were needed regularly they were supposed to be turned into casuals, not be used as an excuse to get rid of benefits for regular scheduled employees.

      • Posted by kwaa on

        They shouldn’t be used that way, but the reality is they often are. You have to eventually justify why you’re asking for CSA after CSA for someone who is clearly needed for the long haul. You don’t have that scrutiny when an employee is a relief worker. They are invisible.

  2. Posted by Insanity on

    No information on how many voted.
    If you voted for this then you have voted for a pay decrease over the next three years.

    • Posted by What deal? on

      This is not a good deal at all, it’s an insult. 0% for the first year of the expired agreement, 1 % for the second year of the expired agreement and 1.5 % for year three of the expired agreement. Yes, it will add some more for the last three years, but GN NEU members should never have voted YES. I guess the sign-up bonus was a good strategy of the GN. Shame on the NEU and GN for treating its employees so badly. Is there still anybody surprised about the vacant positions?

      • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

        Well, it appears that the majority of those who voted don’t agree with you.

  3. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    So inflation this year alone was 9.1%

    You accepted nothing for 2018, 1% 2019, 1.5% 2020 and 1.5% for 2021. Just enough of a lump sum to keep people quiet.

    If you do the math on the northern allowance, it works out to $1050 a year increase or $40 a pay cheque before taxes. After taxes, what is that a big bag of toilet paper? Well after inflation not even.

    Will the NEU report the numbers of how much this ratification tour of Nunavut cost?

    • Posted by sjmcc13 on

      Isn’t it closer to 8%, and that is this year only, which is the highest in decades, 4 of the last 5 years were closer to 2% Inflation.

    • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

      What a paltry sum for staffers to agree on. This has nothing to do with quality of life. The pay increase won’t even come close to keeping up with the constant increase in the cost of living. I pity the fools who voted for the lump-sum payment instead of a real pay increase for the life of the CA.

      • Posted by ThumbsDown on

        You’re exactly right! The annual increases reset and inflate your hourly pay rate, as they are legally binding starting from the Collective Agreement’s effective date. These annual increases create higher permanent wage levels, wage steps and cannot be reduced or over-turned. Year over year employees want to see more new permanent wage increases which increase your annual salary, your pension contributions etc etc. This is a basic union labour negotiating concept. It is a building block design which keeps moving your salary up higher and higher with each wage increment increase. THAT is EXACTLY what employees/members deserve and want! HOWEVER, the lump sum payments do NOTHING permanently to your wage level, your step level, your annual salary, your pension contributions etc etc. So of course the GN wanted lump sum payments over much higher permanent wage increases. NEU and Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are fools. Who from PSAC was the lawyer, negotiator or the arbitrator? Why do they always do more for southern PSAC workers and LESS for PSAC/NEU NORTHERN workers. PSAC gets 52% of all GN/NEU members union dues while NEU only get 48%. PSAC is situated in Ottawa and fights like hell for their southern members while using GN/NEU members union dollars! PSAC and NEU are NOT representing northern members and it’s appalling!

  4. Posted by Did the NEU Even Prepare for Negotiations? on

    October 2018 CPI was 134.1
    May 2022 CPI was 151.9 (most recent available)
    That’s an increase of 13.3%. If the numbers in this article are correct, that means an increase of 4.05% until October 2022. If you’re a GN employee making $80,000 in base salary, you’ll now be making $83,240 instead of the inflation-adjusted amount of $90,640. Plus there’s a huge amount of retro lost in these small adjustments. How does that one-time $3500 payment sound now?
    That lump-sum payment is the GN calling its employees idiots that can’t do math, and both the NEU and the employees just took it and said thank you.

  5. Posted by Solidarity Fornever on

    Watch the exodus once people have the retro pay.
    As for the one-time bonus, that does nothing for our retirement pay, which is based on your 5 best years.
    By delaying this “contract” so long, those near retirement lose permanently.
    Inflation will keep going up even when there’s a recession. They call it stagflation.
    The problems in Nunavut are made worse by the problems affecting the rest of Canada.
    Expect things to get ugly.

  6. Posted by Joke on

    This agreement is a joke. A very unfunny joke. The NEU is a dead horse and the GN knows it. The NEU needs a spine and way better leadership. Welcome to hell. More people will be on welfare as the working poor will be able to afford less and less. Thanks NEU for nothing. Literally.

  7. Posted by Reply to Bert on

    Saw this on Facebook with Bert Rose saying people shouldn’t complain. Well if you make $100,000 you are losing $8000-9000 to inflation this year so more like you earn $91000. Factor in basic inflation since 2018 and starting to feel like $85000. Factor in no increase to northern allowance for ten years more like $83000. Oh but we get $3500 so more like $85000. Oh and now I get $2000 for dental and two days off so let’s just say $87000. Not liking feeling like I’m earning 10% less than 2018 Bert. Did houses drop 10%? Travel? Cars? Medications? Rent?
    Meanwhile MLAs got 3% year over year. Watch what they vote for themselves this year.
    Joining the feds.

    • Posted by Bert Rose on

      Funny how the grass is always greener.
      Better check what happens come pension time for all those Federal plusses. You don’t get to include any of them in your pension.

      • Posted by Reply to Bert on

        Looking at the NA comparable alone isn’t a grass is greener analysis, it is objective: $30,000 vs $15,0000 extra each year for the family federal northern in Iqaluit will be $300,000 alone, unadjusted for federal increases of the next 20 years of my career. I think I’ll be okay without factoring the GN northern allowance into my pension, which might net met a few grand per year when/if I am 65.

  8. Posted by Retired on

    Disgraceful. NEU has NEVER negotiated after an expired collective agreement in a timely manner.
    Once again we are told the future will be better. Getting 1% retro for a 4 year expired contract is getting fk in the @$$.
    NEU is a joke. I have contributed over 100k in my 25 years and the only benefit i got was $50 in embarassing swag.

    • Posted by anonymous on

      I agree with you on this. Years ago, lost count how many times the Union went to the bargaining table regarding the pay-out for sick & special leave credits earned -more than twice it was turned down. There are employees who had earned these credits prior to their retirement or resigned from their position. This issue may not be the point, just my 2 cents.

  9. Posted by hmmm on

    Do former employees get any retro? Left the GN well after the last CBA expired and before this new CBA was signed. Are former employees eligible?

  10. Posted by OF on

    And still no emergency dental coverage requiring travel. Having dental benefits is useless if you need to pay out of your own pocket to fly down south and pay a hotel for basic dental care. Here’s to hoping we can see this as a talking point during our upcoming negotiations.

  11. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    reading the release, $3500 lump sum.

    $1500 Northern Allowance Retro Lump Sum. so $5000 right?

    but wait there is more. $1500 only if you live in Kugluktuk, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak.

    so basically $3500 before taxes. but really $1800? then wait for the retro.

  12. Posted by Union Convention Bar Hoppers Are NOT a Strong Union/Collective Bargaining Team on

    The thousands of NEU/GN union members that pay NEU’s/ PSAC’s elected members (and workers) big, fat, over-inflated, underserved pay cheques as well as, housing, are WORTH much, much, much more then this pitiful “deal”!! GN workers demand accountability, transparency and radical change from these NEU “elected officials”! Union representation must lock in their allegiance to the MEMBERS only! To REPRESENT the members! Not to some self-serving agenda or to cozy up to the GN team.

    The GN team (including HR/ER) are hell bent on acting in bad faith, with the use of oppressive, unethical, misleading tactics towards GN Public Servants and as well, admittedly, in collective bargaining. This group of corrupt goons exploit the pathetic weakness of NEU and walk away laughing every time.

    Although the NEU executive board elections and the collective bargaining team elections are not much better as they’re all about mafia style, manipulating/hand picking NEU members (bar hopping convention buddies) for approval to attend the convention elections and – get this folks – only 30 members are required (even though there are ~ thousands of GN/Other Units/NEU members) to vote in your elected officials that worked on this deal. Insane! Is that even remotely democratic – ya right! Feels like we’re all in Putins corrupt Russia being fed from the propaganda machine!! Time to rise up and demand better as GN workers are WORTH a hell of a lot more than this colossal failure! Next election round, flood the NEU office with registrations to attend the convention and vote in solid individuals with a little more vision, leadership and negotiating skills!

    To NEU and PSAC – Where is the firm , stand-your-ground representation of GN workers and NEU members??? Evidently non-existent! Since the inception of NU you have done nothing but exploit NEU members who pay for your over-inflated pay cheques, expensive convention trips and misuse of union funds beyond the view of the members who entrusted you to be credible, and to have integrity. It’s NEU member’s hard earned union dues that make up your pay cheque. Their union dues are deducted from THEIR much-smaller-pay cheques to make NEU/PSAC elected officials/ employees pay cheques even BIGGER. Many GN employees don’t have the same luxuries NEU/PSAC elected members and workers have. For GN employees this deal really sucks and it’s shockingly obvious this bargaining team is clueless and doesn’t know how to do BASIC math and achieve BASIC labour movement progress. This is a monumental step backwards!!! SHAME!!

  13. Posted by Good agreement for the GN on

    In this current economic crisis of labour shortage, supply chain disruptions, and high inflation, this is a very good deal for the GN: As part of the agreement, union members are getting retroactive raises, broken down to reflect a one per cent wage increase in 2019; a 1.5 per cent wage increase in 2020, a 1.5 per cent wage increase in 2021; and a 1.5 per cent wage increase this year. This win by the GN reflects negatively more on the employees than the NEU. I am surprised that Nunavut’s politicians will allow this deal to go through . I know that the employees are adults but sometimes there need to be an intervention when people are not knowingly voting against their best interest. Employees will soon start noticing how their wealth and spending have been eroded by this agreement, but it may be too late to do something.

  14. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    If you were not an active employee on July 11th, 2022 you will not receive the lump sum.

    You could have paid your dues as a full time employee for 10 or 15 years and retired, left or on disability on July 2nd and you are shit out of luck.

    But a casual employee who started July 2nd, hey welcome v\bonus you pass go and receive $3500.

      • Posted by Northern Inuit on

        one of my Friends is on medical leave at the moment. he contacted the Union and they advised him, because he is not an “active employee” on July 11th, they will not be paying him the $3500 retroactive pay.

        but it clearly states, indeterminate, casual or term employees active on July 11th will be paid the $3500.

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