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New mediation talks expected for early February

The territorial government and its union will be heading back to the bargaining table in February, confirmed Todd Parsons, president of the Union of Northern Workers.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) have been negotiating a new collective agreement since January 2016.

Union of Northern Workers president Todd Parsons wears a sign protesting job cuts at a rally outside the legislative assembly in 2017. The union has been negotiating a new contract with the GNWT since 2016. NNSL file photo

The GNWT said it has confirmed new mediation dates with the mediator’s office for Feb. 8, three days after MLAs resume session in the legislative assembly.

The union has said it is willing to return to the bargaining table to avert strike action.

But when reached by phone before Christmas, UNW president Todd Parsons couldn't confirm the dates for the latest round of negotiations.

"The mediator has proposed dates that are agreeable but I just haven't seen a document," said Parsons.

"I think it's going to be early February, I'm just waiting for documentation before I can say the dates," he said.

Last week, in response to Yellowknifer’s questions about whether the GNWT is considering back to work legislation, the finance department said its focus is on finalizing a collective agreement with the union.

“The GNWT has offered to return to the bargaining table, with or without the mediator, and we remain available to meet with the UNW at any time,” said Todd Sasaki, spokesperson for the department.

-- with files from Avery Zingel