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Move managers to the front line, union rep suggests in response to possible GNWT job cuts

Budget 2024 suggests cutting 91 public service positions, 33 of which are currently vacant.
The Union of Northern Workers and the GNWT are having difficulty reaching a new collective agreement. The territorial government is proposing up to 91 job cuts in Budget 2024-25, which was released Friday.

Budget 2024 suggests cutting 91 public service positions in the NWT, 33 of which are currently vacant. That leaves 58 jobs that are currently staffed included in the proposed cuts.

The government has not identified which positions will be eliminated, though it says 69 of the 91 total positions are under the Union of Northern Workers (UNW).

In an email to NNSL Media, UNW 1st vice-president Melvin Larocque had the following to say about the potential staff reductions:

"We regularly hear from our members that staff shortages and vacancies are creating unmanageable workloads. So when we hear the government try and downplay job cuts by saying many of the positions are vacant, it only adds to the pressure these workers are under."

Larocque added that the GNWT could perhaps find more efficiencies by bringing some of its higher-level management positions down to the program level where the need is higher.

"There still seems to be an over-abundance of upper management and not enough front-line workers," he said. "Workers are already stretched thin, and eliminating resources and capacity instead of supporting the workforce is going to lead to more interruptions and reductions of the services Northerners rely on." 

Larocque also mentioned that residents in smaller, more remote communities will feel the impacts in reductions to staff and services the hardest. He used the example of the closing of the correctional complex in Fort Smith, noting that these facilities support other jobs in the community, and everyone is going to feel the effects of these cuts.

"We hope that during the current sitting of the legislative assembly, MLAs will listen to their constituents and fight for their jobs and their livelihoods," he said.

The UNW and the GNWT have been involved in strained negotiations for a new collective agreement. Last month, a mediator declared an impasse in bargaining and urged each side to submit its best offer. 

About the Author: Devon Tredinnick

Devon Tredinnick is a reporter for NNSL Media. Originally from Ottawa, he's also a recent journalism graduate from Carleton University.
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