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Hay River says ‘no compromise’ over pay, faces strike action

The Town of Hay River says there will be “no compromise” in a dispute over pay with approximately 30 members of staff.

Negotiations between the town and the union, which have been ongoing since July last year, broke down on Tuesday.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) says employees have refused the town’s offer of a 1% annual pay rise for the next three years, and strike action may be a consequence.

“The employer was offering only 1% over three years – one, one and one – and the union’s position was for 2.5%, 2.25% and 2.25%,” PSAC regional executive vice-president Jack Bourassa told Moose FM.

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“From 1% to 2.25%, there’s not a lot of big difference there. But with the cost of living and everything else – the wage increase that has not been forthcoming over the years, as I understand it – 1% was more an insult than an offer.

“Understandably, the members are not prepared to accept that.”

However, the mayor of Hay River, Andrew Cassidy, said the town would not increase its 1% per annum offer.

“Our bargaining team met with our town council. We got clear direction from a unified council on what we consider to be a fair and absolutely final offer,” Cassidy told Moose FM.

“[The town’s offer is] not a compromise. We understand the potential consequences of this offer not being accepted – however, we truly hope the offer will be accepted and there will not be any work disruptions.”

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Bourassa says February 6 would be the earliest date for strike action.

“That was a clear message that the members were not going to settle for the little being offered initially,” he said. “That puts the ball back in the employer’s court. The offer is there, the union still wants to talk.”

Cassidy said: “If there is strike action, there are essential services that still need to be maintained and those positions will be identified.

“All essential, core services will be maintained. We’re hopeful that it doesn’t get there.”

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