Hay River's health centre. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Hay River’s health authority says a strike or lockout “might be the likely outcome” if the Union of Northern Workers insists on pay increases above those received by GNWT workers.
The last collective agreement for territorial government staff included 1.5-percent annual pay increases. Hay River’s health authority, whose staff are governed by an agreement of their own, says it has offered the same deal to the UNW – which has rejected it.
“Because we have not been able to conclude an agreement, right now HRHSSA employees are being paid 3% less than GNWT employees for the same or similar jobs,” the health authority said in a statement on Thursday.
“Right now the HRHSSA is also trying to recruit employees at rates of pay that are 3% less than the rates paid by the GNWT.”
The health authority stated that while it hoped to avoid a work stoppage, “if the union remains insistent on increases that are greater than 1.5% in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022, then a strike or lockout might be the likely outcome.”
The Union of Northern Workers has been approached for comment.
At the time, the union said its Hay River members needed pay and benefits that were “not just comparable” with the likes of the GNWT, but “highly competitive.”
“This is exactly what the HRHSSA has offered, and what the union has rejected,” the health authority stated in response.
The current collective agreement for the health authority expired in March 2021. Negotiations toward a new deal began in the spring of 2022.
On Thursday, the health authority said the earliest a strike or lockout could legally begin is August 19, accounting for a conciliation period that now runs until late July and a 21-day cooling-off period if no deal is reached by that time.
If a strike or lockout does occur, the health authority said legislation requires that some services continue but others will be “reduced or temporarily suspended.”
“We want to be clear that our strong preference is to be able to reach a deal without the need for a strike or lockout,” the authority stated.
“However, in the event that we cannot, we want to assure you that the HRHSSA will continue to deliver services to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate or serious danger to the health and safety of the public.”