GNWT confident removal of Covid-19 leave is ‘in compliance’


The NWT government has rejected the Union of Northern Workers’ suggestion that removal of specialized Covid-19 leave for staff breaks their collective agreement.

Earlier this week, the union told members it would file a grievance over the decision to no longer let staff with Covid-19 take a dedicated form of paid sick leave that left their regular banked leave unaffected.

Removal of that option came as the NWT lifted all of its pandemic measures, declaring an end to what had been a two-year-long public health emergency.

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The union stated provision of specialized Covid-19 leave had been baked into the most recent collective agreement, meaning the GNWT “cannot unilaterally take away” access to that leave.

However, on Friday the territorial government said it stood by the move.

“The GNWT is confident that its actions are in compliance with the collective agreement,” Todd Sasaki, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance, said by email.

“That said, the Union of Northern Workers has a right to file a grievance under the collective agreement if they believe that the employer has violated – by interpretation or application – any provision in the agreement.”

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A grievance is essentially an allegation that a breach of contract has occurred. They are usually referred to successively higher levels within the territorial government and union before ultimately reaching independent arbitration if no agreement can be reached.