The unions representing striking city workers are accusing municipal administration of cutting off access to city councillors.

“It appears city administration will stop at nothing to smear its own workers in public, try to bully them into giving up their right to strike and negotiate a fair deal, and control what council hears and does,” the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) North stated in a news release issued shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday.

On Feb. 15, union leaders invited Mayor Rebecca Alty and councillors to meet to discuss issues that union members are experiencing. The unions state that Alty refused, “saying it would be inappropriate for us to have discussions behind closed doors because it was a matter before council.”

Then on Feb. 23, the UNW registered to speak at Monday’s council meeting about the strike/lockout and workers’ perspectives. However, that same day, the city clerk refused the presentation as well as a presentation from a member of the public, according to the union, adding that the clerk insisted that it would be inappropriate to make a public presentation on “personnel matters” before council.

“The City of Yellowknife can’t have it both ways; if the strike/lockout is a matter before council, as the mayor states, then council needs to address it during council meetings or, at the very least, allow constituents to speak to it so they can have their voice heard,” the unions stated in their news release. “If it is not, then the city should have no problem with councilors meeting with union leaders to hear what the workers they represent have to say.

“If council is not willing to discuss this with residents or union leaders behind closed doors or in public, how can they be accountable to residents? How will they make the most informed decisions? Is their only source of information the city administration?

“When will the mayor and councilors visit picket lines and talk to striking and locked out workers? Are our elected city councilors accountable to the public, or to city administration? Was city council elected to represent all Yellowknife residents, or only repeat talking points from city management?” the unions ask. “We encourage all Yellowknifers to reach out to their elected councillors and ask them to bring the city back to the negotiating table, rather than try to silence workers and force them back to work through arbitration.”

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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  1. It appears the union wants to negotiate outside of the collective agreement and outside of the bargaining team. No support for the union or the workers. You were offered, from what appears to me, a reasonable offer. Get back to the bargaining table and get back to work.