Qulliq Energy accused of Inuit worker discrimination
The head of Nunavut's Inuit land-claims organization is accusing Qulliq Energy Corp. of discriminating against Inuit employees.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Cathy Towtongie said at least seven Inuit employees of Qulliq Energy (QEC) have been disciplined or dismissed since June 2010. They have since filed union grievances, lawsuits, or told the organization about unfair treatment at Nunavut's public power utility, she said.
Towtongie said the workers had raised questions about Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which calls for increased Inuit participation in the territorial government workforce.
"These cases are not isolated incidents," she told CBC News.
"These incidents show a consistent pattern of discriminatory practices by some senior QEC managers toward Inuit employees."
Utility denies discrimination claims
Towtongie said some of the disciplined and dismissed employees had been with Qulliq Energy for many years.
Nunavut Tunngavik had written to Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for Qulliq Energy, asking for an independent review of the utility's employment practices.
As well, Towtongie said she asked Kusugak and Qulliq Energy president Peter Mackey to address "discriminatory practices" at the utility and ensure that Article 23 of the land-claim agreement is fully implemented and respected.
All of Nunavut Tunngavik's requests have been rejected, Towtongie said.
"In the responding letters, Minister Kusugak and Mr. Mackey defended QEC employment practices, denied discrimination and maintained that employee discipline are internal matters not open for discussion," she stated in a release.
"QEC cannot hide behind a curtain of confidentiality or self-serving processes that attempt to hide discrimination by concocting workplace offences that allow for the unfair punishment of Inuit who speak up for their rights," she added.
Towtongie said Nunavut Tunngavik is demanding that Qulliq Energy respect Inuit rights under the land claim. She is calling on the Nunavut government to make sure the utility respects and values Inuit employment at every level.
Towtongie added that she wants Inuit beneficiaries to know that Nunavut Tunngavik stands by them when it comes to implementing the Inuit employment section of their land claim.