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Northern Labour groups show support for striking Iqaluit Housing Authority workers

Use of scabs will only prolong strike, says Public Service Alliance of Canada
The unionized workers of the Iqaluit Housing Authority have been picketing for larger wage increases and better working conditions since March 17. From left, Heela Kango, Keeny Enuaraq, Joanasie Kilabuk, Paul Gordon, Ken Braun (kneeling), Daniel Kolola, NEU President Jason Rochon and Tracy Curley. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

Northern labour organizations are showing their support for 13 striking Iqaluit Housing Authority (IHA) workers.

UNW Local 345, representing employees with the City of Yellowknife, provided lunch for striking IHA workers on March 29.

“Stay strong and hang in there,” commented Geraldine Penney of UNW Local 345.

The Northern Territories Federation of Labour echoed their support, purchasing pizzas for striking workers on March 24, a week after the job action began.

National Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) representatives have criticized the IHA for bringing in outside southern labour to continue operations in IHA buildings.

“Workers in Iqaluit are fighting for decent wages for their families in the face of skyrocketing Northern prices,” stated PSAC national president Chris Aylward. “The employer’s decision to lock out workers and bring in scabs (replacement workers) to do their work cannot go unchallenged.”

According to PSAC and Nunavut Employee Union (NEU), the use of replacement workers will only result in a longer strike.

“The Iqaluit Housing Authority should halt the use of scabs and come back to the bargaining table with a real mandate to negotiate better working conditions for the people who provide vital services to Iqaluit residents,” said NEU president Jason Rochon.

PSAC is calling on the federal government to introduce provisions in the Canadian Labour Code that limit the use of replacement workers.

The two unions previously called on Nunavut Housing Minister Lorne Kusugak to intervene in the strike on behalf of the Nunavut Housing Corporation, which oversees the IHA.

“I am proud to provide services to everyone that lives in an IHA maintained house, but things need to change,” said Kenny Enuaraq, a striking IHA apprentice plumber in a statement from NEU. “We not only need fair wages but we need to have our workplace run in a way that understands the people living in housing, the workers and Inuit traditions.”

Messages to IHA were not returned as of press time.