Federal picket line begins outside Yellowknife’s Greenstone Building

Picketing federal workers gathered outside Yellowknife’s Greenstone Building as a nationwide strike involving more than 150,000 people began on Wednesday.

The strike, which affects more than 20 federal departments and agencies, primarily involves a union request for higher wages. Collective bargaining reached an impasse last year.

The federal government says some of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s demands are unrealistic and the union needs to compromise. The PSAC said on Wednesday that Canada needed to start negotiating seriously.


In Yellowknife, day one of the strike took the form of a picket line outside the Greenstone Building, a downtown office block that is home to a range of federal agencies’ offices.

The picket line beneath the Greenstone Building. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
A sign invites honking for fair wages
A sign invites honking for fair wages. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Gayla Thunstrom – president of the Union of Northern Workers, which is not directly involved in the strike but is a component of the PSAC – led a support rally outside the building at noon on Wednesday.

“When our members at the City of Yellowknife went on strike, your donations and support meant a lot and helped Local 345 members get through some pretty chilly days on the picket line. Now, here we are for you,” Thunstrom told a group of assembled picketers, referring to a municipal strike that lasted for almost six weeks earlier this year.

“How else can workers make themselves heard,” she said, “if their employer refuses to listen?”

More than a dozen picketing workers outside the building each declined to speak about the decision to strike.


Jacques Roberge, who represents GNWT Department of Infrastructure workers as president of UNW Local 10, attended the support rally alongside Thunstrom in a supporting capacity. (No territorial staff are involved in the federal strike action.)

“We support our brothers and sisters of the federal public service in their fight for better working conditions and fair working conditions for all,” Roberge said.

Workers and supporters joined forces for a noon rally. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
“Rent ain’t cheap. Increase our salary,” one sign declared. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Delays at RCMP front desks, disruption to tax returns and passport services, and reduced service from Indigenous Services Canada are expected to be some of the most readily felt effects of federal strike action in the North.

The PSAC says picket lines were planned in more than 250 locations across the country on Wednesday.


So far, no picket lines have been announced by the union in other NWT communities.