The NWT Power Corporation’s collective agreement with the Union of Northern Workers expires on New Year’s Eve, heralding a year of bargaining ahead.
The power corporation’s latest collective agreement, which governs the pay and working conditions of its unionized workers, was only signed in April 2019.
It’s expiring so soon because that agreement was backdated to late 2014. The two parties took more than four years to reach a deal, culminating in the threat of a strike before the union accepted a pay increase of 8.9 percent over the period 2014-2020. (Again, most of that increase was backdated.)
At the time, the union said that deal also included improved parental leave arrangements, more supports for mental health, and improvements to job security related.
The union, which closes its offices over the Christmas and New Year period, had no comment regarding the expected commencement of bargaining.
By email, power corporation communications manager Doug Prendergast said: “As has been the case in the past, NTPC will do its bargaining at the table and not in the media. However, I can inform you that NTPC and the Union of Northern Workers have not yet had a meeting or scheduled an initial bargaining session.
“We anticipate that the collective bargaining process will begin next year.”
The NWT government’s broader collective agreement with the union, covering some 4,000 workers, will also expire soon.
The GNWT’s agreement was backdated in much the same way as the power corporation’s deal. The five-year GNWT deal, signed in March 2019, applies from April 2016 and runs out at the end of March 2021.
That agreement was reached with the help of a mediator after a frantic February in which thousands of workers came within 24 hours of strike action.
No dates have been published for the GNWT and union to begin bargaining.
Once a collective agreement expires, it is customary for the expired deal’s terms to remain in place for as long as necessary, covering workers’ arrangements with their employer until such time as a new deal is agreed.
There is so far no suggestion that forthcoming talks involving the union, NTPC and the GNWT will be anything like as acrimonious as those in 2019.
The union carried out surveys this year to identify priorities for members in forthcoming negotiations. The results of those surveys have been reported back to union local executives but haven’t been published.