A picket line outside Yellowknife City Hall. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Lawyers representing the City of Yellowknife and a municipal workers’ union went into mediation over picketing rules on Tuesday afternoon.
As a strike related to a salary dispute continues, the move extends a legal battle between the city and Public Service Alliance of Canada over the size of picket lines and extent to which they can cause disruption.
Last week, the city filed for an injunction to prevent picketers from impeding access to city facilities, claiming that striking workers on picket lines were causing unreasonable delays at some of them.
A temporary injunction was granted last Tuesday without input from the union. The order limited delays caused by picket lines to 10 minutes and the number of picketers at each facility entrance to six at a time.
PSAC has since applied to have that injunction lifted. Last Friday, Justice Andrew Mahar – who issued the injunction – asked to reschedule a hearing on the matter but, in the interim, amended the order, removing the limit on the number of picketers allowed.
When the parties met in court again on Tuesday morning to make their arguments, Justice Mahar asked if they would be willing to explore the possibility of a “picketing protocol.”
At 2pm, a lawyer representing PSAC said the parties had been going back and forth on various proposals. Both sides agreed to take Mahar up on an offer to act as mediator and proceed in private.
Addressing the courtroom, Mahar said the parties were close enough that, with a bit of pushing and nudging, he could help them come to a conclusion.
No further update was immediately available following the decision to enter private mediation.
A strike began earlier this month after the city and unions reached an impasse over the extent to which salary increases in a new collective bargaining agreement should reflect recent inflation.