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Qulliq Energy workers' strike has had no impact on operations, says gov't

The strike by workers at the Qulliq Energy Corporation has had no financial or operational impact on the territory to date, say Nunavut government officials.

'Things are operating as per plan,' says deputy minister of Finance

Qulliq Energy Corporation workers have been on strike since July 16. The Nunavut Employees Union says the number of power-related emergencies in the territory would be minimized if the QEC workers were not on strike and able to run regular maintenance on the system. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

The strike by workers at the Qulliq Energy Corporation has had no financial or operational impact on the territory to date, say Nunavut government officials.

"Things are operating as per plan," says Chris D'Arcy, deputy minister of Finance.

"I would not go as far as saying they're operating as per usual, but they may be, and I am not aware of any real specific complaints that have come through to QEC as of yet."

Qulliq Energy Corporation's 140 unionized workers, who perform mechanical, electrical and line maintenance work in communities across Nunavut, went on strike on July 16.  

Chris D'Arcy, Nunavut's Deputy Minister of Finance says, the strike is causing 'stress throughout the system,' particularly on management who are stepping in to do the work of the striking employees. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Despite power outages in Sanikiluaq and Whale Cove, the strike has not created any additional financial or operational burden on the territory, D'Arcy says.

"It's all part and parcel of the same cost of operations."

On Monday an emergency team was dispatched to Whale Cove to respond to a power outage. According to Mayor Stanley Adjuk, the power was out for more than 10 hours.

Emergency teams were also dispatched to Sanikiluaq twice this week. Mayor Frank Audla says the power was out for about 10 to 15 minutes on Monday. A second team was dispatched to the hamlet on Wednesday to respond to ongoing problems.

The union says if Qulliq Energy workers were not on strike, the generators would be maintained and able to operate at optimal level, and no second team would have needed to have been sent to Sanikiluaq.

"Because we were only responding to the emergency at hand, we dealt with the issue, the issue was fixed, they were sent back," says Imoe Papatsie, secretary for the Nunavut Employees Union.

"The next day we were told that it was a different problem." 

An emergency team is scheduled to be sent to Arviat on Friday to address concerns over a church running on half power.

D'Arcy says although the strike is causing "stress throughout the system," particularly on management who are stepping in to do the work of the striking employees, they are making do for now.

"We're concerned that there could be problems in the long run," says D'Arcy,

"Nobody likes labour disputes."

It has been one week since the employees hit the picket lines across Nunavut. 

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