Support from northerners like you keeps our journalism alive. Sign up here.



With union talks paused, GNWT resumes pay increases for others

The sun rises over Yellowknife's Scotia Centre, home to several territorial government departments, on the morning of April 26, 2018. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The sun rises over Yellowknife's Scotia Centre, home to several territorial government departments. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

The territorial government has awarded a one-percent pay increase to a group of employees not represented by the Union of Northern Workers.

Non-unionized staff, including senior managers and certain other staff termed excluded employees, noticed a small bump in their salaries beginning in their June 29 paycheques.

The territory says it will backdate the increase to April 1.

The increase is in line with the territory’s proposed increase for unionized workers covered by collective bargaining – a proposal the union has rejected for the past two and a half years, asking instead for three percent year-on-year increases.



Non-unionized employees include senior managers and those staff whose positions would be in some way compromised or otherwise negatively affected were they unionized.

‘Traditional compensation model’

Wages for non-unionized staff had been frozen since early 2016.

“The GNWT has ended the two-year wage freeze and we are returning to our traditional compensation model,” read a document issued to staff by the territorial government on Tuesday.

“The GNWT applied a 1.0% wage increase effective April 1, 2018 to all non-unionized employees, which is consistent with the offer made to the UNW.



“The 1.0% wage increase was applied to the June 29, 2018 paycheques and retro payments to April 1, 2018 will be processed.”

The territorial government began processing the pay increase without notifying at least some of those staff affected, according to two excluded employees who contacted Cabin Radio. They requested anonymity as they are not authorized to speak on the matter.

Cabin Radio first requested confirmation of the pay increase in an email to the territory’s Department of Finance on June 29. The department was unable to say whether the increase had taken place until July 17, when it provided a link to its briefing for employees.

‘Too bad’

Todd Parsons, president of the Union of Northern Workers, said: “The union did hear informally that excluded staff received an increase of one percent.

“We were glad to hear they received an increase, as all workers deserve to have their wages keep up with the cost of living, but it is too bad that this increase does not keep up with the consumer price index.”

Negotiations between the union and the territorial government appear at a standstill until late October, when three days of mediation overseen by experienced mediator Vince Ready will take place.

The territory, which has consistently claimed it has nowhere near the financial resources to match the union’s demands, also used its update for staff to suggest the union was being unreasonable.

“It is noteworthy that according to data available through Employment and Social Development Canada, in 2018 there have been 30 major public sector collective agreements negotiated across the country,” read the update.

“The average length of duration has been 40.9 months and the average wage increase has been 0.5% annually.”