The GNWT has refused offers by the Union of Northern Workers to agree to voluntary Binding Arbitration in order to settle three-year-old labour negotiations and avoid a potential strike.

According to a press release from the UNW, talks between the government and the Territories’ largest bargaining units at the GNWT and NTPC, broke down after the government refused to budge on many key issues and flatly rejected UNW’s offer of Binding Arbitration.

UNW president Todd Parsons stated that for over three years, our members have been working hard, making compromises and trying to reach a fair deal.

“We believe a fair deal is one that means stable jobs and keeps up with the cost of living. If the government was serious about fixing this situation and settling this dispute they could do so today, right now, and simply agree to Binding Arbitration.”

Both sides face some risk under Binding Arbitration, Parsons notes. He adds that given the stress it has placed on the workers and communities, the UNW is willing to accept the risk and compromise on the long-standing principle of preserving their members right to strike.

“Unfortunately, the government has refused to even agree to a fair process that could help us reach a fair deal. The government is being dishonest and unaccountable, saying one thing in public then acting a different way behind closed doors. That just isn’t right.”

The statement concluded by saying the door for negotiations is still open and that both sides can still take the risk and the reward together and end this right now.

“This is a sacrifice for our members but it’s worth it if we can end this dispute, avoid a strike, and ensure a fair deal.”

The GNWT in an email stated they will be attending the February 8-9 mediation sessions with the union with the sole goal of concluding a new collective agreement.

The parties held two days of mediation talks last October with mediator Mr. Vince Ready, one of the most experienced and highly respected mediators in the country. The email notes that if the parties are unable to conclude an agreement at the upcoming mediation, they should be jointly requesting that Ready provide the parties with recommendations to resolve the outstanding issues.

The job of the mediator is to provide the parties with a report either recommending a resolution of their differences or stating that he will not make recommendations and the reasons why he will not do so.