North

N.W.T. public servants vote 70% yes to strike, but union said it won't just yet

The Union of Northern Workers, which represents about 4,000 Government of the Northwest Territories employees, says recent strike votes have resulted in 70 per cent of respondents in favour.

UNW, G.N.W.T. have been dug in on collective bargaining for over 2 years

'Our purpose is not to strike, because a strike is bad for everyone. It is a powerful tool that we have been given,' says Todd Parsons, the president of the Union of Northern Workers. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The Union of Northern Workers, which represents about 4,000 Government of the Northwest Territories employees, says recent strike votes have resulted in 70 per cent of respondents in favour.

The N.W.T. government and the union have been deadlocked over a new collective agreement for the past two years.

"I am very pleased with the outcome of this vote, our members have articulated that they are not interested in the current offer," Todd Parsons, president of the union said in a news release issued Tuesday.

"This clear majority vote sends a strong mandate to the bargaining team that members support them – and to the employer – that they are committed to fighting for better wage and northern allowance increases, job security, full-time indeterminate work for our members and mental health strategies to help all employees,"

Union negotiators want a three per cent salary increase every year for a period of three years. The government offered no salary increases in the first two years, a one per cent increase in year three, and a 1.1 per cent increase in the final year.

A finance spokesperson previously told CBC that the government can't afford the union's financial demands.

Parsons said the strike vote does not mean that workers will stop working.

"We are in fact trying to avoid a strike," said Parsons.

"Our purpose is not to strike, because a strike is bad for everyone. It is a powerful tool that we have been given and I hope that we don't have to use it."

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