No end in sight for Yukon strike after almost 50 days on picket line

Unionized employees at Many Rivers Counselling who began strike on Nov. 2 say management's negotiator won't budge on reasonable contract demands.

Employees at Many Rivers Counselling who began strike on Nov. 2 say management won't budge

Members of the union bargaining team, from left, Larissa Korns, Kim Rogers and Brandon Murdoch, speak to supporters on Tuesday in Whitehorse. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Members of the union bargaining team at Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services say management is refusing to see reason.

The striking workers are marking their 50th day on the picket lines this week. Close to 20 employees at offices in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Haines Junction and Watson Lake are affected.

Kim Rogers said during the many months of bargaining leading up to the strike they made every concession they were willing to make.

"We've been backed against the wall," said Rogers. "There's really nowhere else for us to go in this negotiation."

The strike at Many Rivers began on Nov. 2 and will mark its 50th day this week. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Larissa Korns, one of the counsellors, said they've received a response from the non-profit society's negotiator indicating management is not prepared to make a better offer.

She said one of the key points management won't give on is flexibility for the employees to set their own hours.

Korns said that would allow counsellors to come in a bit early to prepare for an early client, or stay late to finish some paperwork.

Their local president Brandon Murdoch said the non-profit society isn't willing to treat its employees with the same respect it promises to clients.

Yukon Employees Union president Steve Geick vows the union will not give up. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"When you look at the vision and the values of what the board is supposed to be doing, they are responsible for the organization," said Murdoch. "The staff are part of the organization."

The president the Yukon Employees Union, Steve Geick, said the board is not going to win.

"We have the resources and the will of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, with 180,000 members across this country. And we're not going anywhere," he said.

Neither the president of the society's board, Marina Bailey, nor its executive director Brent Ramsay, responded to CBC's request for comment.