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Latest talks between GNWT, union on collective agreement ‘futile’

The union representing 3,900 GNWT workers is demanding a new allowance for fuel and utilities on top of a three per cent yearly wage increase as talks with the government over a collective agreement continue.

But the demands – which were put forth by the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) – were quickly shot down by the territorial government last week, which said they’d come at a cost of about $12 million a year.

RELATED: Bargaining begins between GNWT and workers’ union

RELATED: The union’s bargaining update page

The two sides have been at odds over pay increases since talks for a new collective agreement began in January.

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As negotiations continue, employees remain covered by the previous agreement, which expired Mar. 31.

Todd Parsons, president of the Union of Northern Workers.
Todd Parsons, president of the Union of Northern Workers.

Prior to last week, representatives from the territorial government and UNW hadn’t met since May, when talks ended on a disappointing note according to the union.

Todd Parsons, president of the Union of Northern Workers, says the most recent round of negotiations didn’t go much better.

“The UNW bargaining team will be consulting with members across the territory during the next two months following another futile negotiating session,” he wrote to members last week.

“We are very disappointed that the government bargaining team has not come to the table prepared to engage in meaningful negotiations about issues important to our members.”

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RELATED: The government’s bargaining update page

Meanwhile, the government says all of the union’s most recent demands would amount to $11.8 million in additional spending for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Combined with the union’s previous monetary demands, the yearly cost to the government would be roughly $29.8 million.

When talks first began in January, the GNWT said it was facing a range of economic challenges that ‘will impact the government for years to come’.

“The fiscal realities that face the GNWT remain unchanged,” the government wrote in response to the union’s demands last week.

“The GNWT proposes a four-year collective agreement with modest salary increases in the third and fourth years.”

The government has also said it doesn’t have money to pay for the union’s fuel and utilities allowance proposal, which would be calculated much like the Northern Allowance.

It remains to be seen when the next round of negotiations will begin.

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