Hamlet of Arctic Bay employees vote to strike, could 'cancel Christmas'
Issues include wage increases, treatment of casual employees and northern allowance benefits
Employees with the Hamlet of Arctic Bay have voted with "overwhelming support" to strike — and it could affect Christmas activities in the Nunavut community.
A news release from the Nunavut Employees Union and the Public Service Alliance of Canada says a meeting was held on the week of Oct. 24 and nearly all 20 full-time hamlet employees showed strong support for strike action.
The most recent collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2016.
Unresolved issues include wage increases, the treatment of between 16 and 19 casual employees who are reportedly being paid minimum wage, and northern allowance benefits.
The unions say hamlet employees receive less than $8,000 a year in northern allowance, while Government of Nunavut employees in the hamlet receive $24,500 per year. They say hamlet workers in the communities of Pond Inlet and Rankin Inlet also receive more than $24,000 a year in northern benefits.
Arctic Bay hamlet employees include truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, administrative workers, mechanics and staff who deal with waste management and water delivery.
"We're coming into the Christmas season," Bill Fennell, president of the Nunavut Employees Union, told CBC News on Monday.
"The recreation people would be busy throughout. If there's no recreation people to do the program, it would cancel Christmas."
Since the collective agreement expired, the two sides have had one round of bargaining.
The union says at that time, the hamlet offered a three-year deal with a zero per cent increase, followed by one per cent and another one per cent, "with only a modest improvement in the Northern Allowance."
"They don't want to go on strike. They want the employer to come to the table and be prepared to negotiate," said Fennell.
The strike deadline is Dec. 5. Fennell said they hope to have three conference calls with the hamlet between now and then to reach a deal.
The mayor of Arctic Bay could not be reached for comment on Monday.
With files from Jane Sponagle