Threat of labour action disrupts powwow plans

Organizers have postponed a major powwow which had been set for this weekend at Evraz Place in Regina, over concerns about a possible labour disruption at the facility.

Juno Awards could also be impacted

Organizers have postponed a major powwow which had been set for this weekend at Evraz Place in Regina, over concerns about a possible labour disruption at the facility.

The First Nations University of Canada, which has its main campus in Regina, had booked Evraz Place for its 35th Annual Spring Celebration Pow-Wow April 6 - 7.

On Tuesday, organizers said they were moving their plans to the weekend of May 11 - 12.

"We regret this turn of events but remain committed to this important cultural event," Richard Missens, chair of the event, said in a news release. "I know there are many singers, dancers, and visitors who will be disappointed by this delay and we share their disappointment. Unfortunately, no other venue can accommodate our event."

According to Missens, the powwow attracts more than 6,300 visitors for a variety of cultural events, as well as competitions of drum performers and dancers.

Mark Allan, an official from the agency which operates Evraz Place for the City of Regina, said the possibility of labour action was a disappointment.

According to Allan, the union that represents Evraz Place workers delivered a formal strike notice on Tuesday.

Allan said their current collective agreement expired two years ago and bargaining efforts — which included a conciliation process — had failed.

Allan said the strike notice means picket lines could go up on the site as early as Thursday.

"Strike action, and the uncertainty it will create, is the last thing anyone should want, because it will bring into question our ability to host a number of major upcoming events," Allan added.

Allan said the Juno Awards, which involve a week-long series of events, could also be affected.

The awards ceremony itself is scheduled for April 21 at Brandt Centre which is part of Evraz Place.

Allan also said Evraz Place management has served notice that it could lock out workers, also as soon as Thursday.

According to Allan, workers had been offered wage increases which would total six per cent after three years, with the first increase retroactive to 2011.

"This would keep our employees very competitive with others in the Saskatchewan hospitality sector," Allan said in a news release.

Allan claimed the union was seeking much more than that.

Evraz Place is currently operated by an exhibition board on property owned by the city.

Plans are underway for the organization to run out of city hall.