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UNW convention will now be held online and by phone


The Union of Northern Workers has abandoned any hope of holding some of next month’s convention in person as the NWT’s Covid-19 outbreak continues.

Union leader Todd Parsons, who will be replaced as president at the convention after a 19-year tenure, said in a letter to members the UNW would “respect the recommendations” of Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola by scrapping a planned face-to-face meeting of delegates.

There are more than 160 active cases of Covid-19 in Yellowknife, which is under heightened public health measures until at least early October in a bid to contain the disease’s spread.

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The decision to hold the October 15-17 convention without any in-person events could complicate attendance for delegates joining online or by phone from communities with less-reliable internet access.

In an email on Tuesday, delegates were warned they must have “a stable internet connection in order to fully participate and vote” at the convention.

Anyone with a slower internet connection may have to switch off video or use a phone to connect instead, finance and administration director Kim Bailey told delegates.

However, voting will take place online – not by phone – and requires a “minimal internet connection.”

The union said using an employer’s premises or equipment to participate in the online convention “is strictly prohibited,” meaning delegates must have access to a sufficiently strong home internet connection or some form of third-party access.

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The UNW said it was sending tablets to all delegates containing what would ordinarily be paper materials, alongside the online voting platform to be used.

So far, the slate of candidates to replace Parsons is not known. Nominations are accepted on the convention floor.

Contacted early on Tuesday afternoon after announcing the convention’s virtual switch to delegates, the union had no comment by 6:30pm.

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