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Iqaluit Housing Authority staff prepare to go on strike

Planned inflationary not enough to keep up with cost-of-living, say Union
The Nunavut Employees Union is planning strike action as of March 16 for its membership within the Iqaluit Housing Authority, saying the current planned inflationary increases are not enough. NNSL file photo

Staff of the Iqaluit Housing Authority, who are part of the Nunavut Employees Union (NEU), are planning to strike on March 16.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the NEU served notice of impending strike action on March 13.

Proposed wage increases of 1.25 to 1.5 per cent are not enough to keep up with increasing costs in an inflationary environment, according to the union.

“The cost of living in Iqaluit has dramatically increased over time, more so in the last year. We are looking for a fair increase in salaries to be able to afford the increasing cost of living,” said Nicky Nauyuk, Iqaluit Housing Authority plumber and PSAC/NEU bargaining member.

A January strike vote was “overwhelmingly re-validated” by unionized housing authority staff, according to a release by the NEU.

“No one wants to be outside picketing, especially if it gets brutally cold again here in Iqaluit,” said NEU president Jason Rochon. “However, when you are dealing with an employer who has shown no signs of any honest commitment to reaching a fair agreement on wages, you are left with no options and that is why we are where we are at this point.”

Rochon added the Iqaluit Housing Authority (IHA) has “serious recruitment and retention issues” as employees are leaving to find other, better jobs in Iqaluit.

“We asked Iqaluit to support our members and to understand that this fight is not only for the employees of IHA, but a fight to ensure the long-term ability to provide housing services and support all those who call Iqaluit home,” stated Rochon.

The Nunavut Housing Corporation declined to comment, saying services will still be delivered to housing tenants in the capital city.