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Notes from the Trail: Strike has a hidden price

Strike affects more than just the union and government
Strikes scare us. As we know, they can escalate overnight from peaceful to violent protests turning friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour and a city permanently split and damaged, writes Nancy Vail. NNSL file photo

It’s one thing to take strike action, but it’s another to use members of the general public as pawns.

Late last week, the union decided to make people trying to access the swimming pool and arena area wait 15 minutes before entering and exiting the site. That included those trying to work on the new overpriced swimming pool or the dog park. Further, the union decided that the gym club would no longer be able to use the space it rents at the multiplex since that showed a kind of favouritism, even though the club paid for its use. Those young people had waited through two long years of Covid-19 to practise their sport again and were now barred by strikers.

In addition, the man who runs the concession and coaches soccer was deprived of his family’s main source of income after surviving the Covid-19 lockdown — and now this.

And much to the chagrin of those who practise recycling, the bins disappeared meaning everything now goes into our overfilled landfill, which we are trying to avoid expanding. Even our refuse collectors who have to pick up the slack were forced to wait.

Yes, the courts have intervened in these delays and they’ve been somewhat shortened but why are some people being asked to pay such a high price for this strike?

When I was delayed in my attempt to get to the dog park, which I, along with other dedicated users, have to spend time cleaning every visit since the city doesn’t, was told to go to the city’s website and tell it to get back to the table and make reasonable offers. Well, no. I am more likely to get on the union’s website and tell them to quit holding innocent people and animals hostage.

Make no mistake, there is no one who does not appreciate the hard work most city workers do. We are grateful for those who head out early in the morning to clear roads and make city streets safe. We are grateful for the great job they did with the Christmas decorations and beautifying our parks. We have seen them working in extreme cold and heat and we feel for and with them. We are aware of the sacrifices and know that a better package could be worked out. But please don’t use us as pawns in this chess game.

Further, there are many among us who are not impressed with the city’s decision to build an overpriced swimming pool in the Arctic with a seven per cent operating cost recovery. That decision could have been nipped in the bud before it bloomed with the money being spent on better alternatives such as shelters and wages.

We are not fans of many civic decisions as we are not in favour of strike actions that hurt sometimes vulnerable people. No one will score brownie points with these behaviours.

Let’s not forget that we live in the city which is home to an explosion which rocked this country to its core. That too was the manifestation of a strike action that left several people dead and others with permanent scars.

Strikes scare us. As we know, they can escalate overnight from peaceful to violent protests turning friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour and a city permanently split and damaged. A house divided against itself is doomed to fall.

Instead of this, maybe what we need to do is lock negotiators in a room and leave them there until a deal is hammered out, much like jury duty. Good food and hotel space provided.

We do not need this now. We do not need it. The city has just relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions with activities slowly returning to normal and tourists spending thousands to visit. The snow castle will open soon, drawing guests from around the world. We don’t want them to remember a closed visitor centre and picket lines.

Of course, we believe in the right to strike as it is a basis of our democracy. But, we also want to minimize the needless pain a strike could cause — especially now with so much conflict and suffering in the world. We must rise above this. We can do better.

Let’s get to the table with open minds and negotiate in a way that makes the city proud.