Union of Northern Workers signs in Hay River. Aastha Sethi/Cabin Radio
Unionized Hay River healthcare workers have again endorsed strike action, union officials said on Sunday.
Having had a first quasi-strike declared unlawful by Canada’s labour board, the Union of Northern Workers said a second strike vote in recent days resulted in “a strong strike mandate.”
The union says Hay River’s health authority is not offering a deal that puts it on “a level playing field for recruitment and retention” compared to similar roles elsewhere in the NWT. Most territorial healthcare workers are part of the GNWT’s collective agreement, but Hay River’s agreement is separate.
“If the employer declines to respond to the union’s last proposal package with a better offer, notice to strike may be filed 72 hours in advance and within the next 60 days. It is also likely that the employer may choose to lock the workers out,” the union wrote on Sunday, taking the unusual step of issuing a press release. Most of the union’s recent communications have taken the form of messages to members on its website.
Hay River’s collective agreement expired in March 2021. Around 240 staff are said to be affected.
An attempt at mediation led by the Canadian labour board failed last month. The health authority and the union accuse each other of refusing to return to the bargaining table since.
Should a strike occur, the health authority – which has declined to discuss specifics of the five-year deal it is offering – says both parties will be under a legal obligation to “continue to provide the services necessary in order to prevent a danger to the health or safety of the public.”
The union said on Sunday that residents “should expect to see a reduction in some healthcare services for the duration” if a strike goes ahead.