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Limit on number of people on picket line lifted

A picketing municipal worker in February 2023
A picketing municipal worker in February 2023. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

A restriction that limits the number of picketers at entrances to city facilities was lifted in NWT Supreme Court on Friday morning.

The restriction was part of an injunction issued on Tuesday intended to prevent striking activity from impeding access to city facilities. The City of Yellowknife filed for the injunction, claiming that workers on picket lines were causing delays of up to an hour at the dump and up to half an hour at the construction site of the new aquatic centre, as CBC reported earlier this week.

The order, issued by Justice Andrew Mahar, limits delays a picket line can cause to 10 minutes and the number of picketers at each city entrance — including the public pool, curling club, solid waste facility, multiplex, field house and city hall — to six people at a time.

The order was set to last 10 days and was granted without input from the union, the Canadian Press reported on Wednesday.



In a courtroom on Friday, a lawyer representing the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which has a role in representing city workers in a dispute over salary increases, said the union was in the process of applying to lift the injunction.

Justice Mahar said he was not able to hear the application that morning and asked for the hearing to be postponed until next Tuesday.

After reviewing materials presented by PSAC, however, he said he was prepared to lift the limitation on the number of people on a picket line in the interim.

He added that he was prepared to set the entire day aside on Tuesday to hear the argument and requested that both parties submit any late materials to allow for a more complete hearing that day.



“We are very pleased with this ruling, which reaffirms our members’ rights to peaceful and lawful protest,” the unions involved said in a statement later on Friday.

“It is shameful that the city is attempting to use the courts to infringe on their workers’ rights and freedoms in order to mitigate the financial impacts the city faces as a consequence of their lockout.

“We look forward to responding to their allegations in court next Tuesday.”