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Hay River strike action postponed by document delay

Strike action in Hay River has been delayed as the union is waiting for documents to be approved.

The Union of Northern Workers, which represents around 30 Town of Hay River workers, had initially called for strike action to begin on Friday in a dispute over pay.

However, the strike cannot begin until documentation is approved by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

“To be in a legal strike position, there is an essential services agreement that has to be rubberstamped first, and we’re just waiting on that,” said Jack Bourassa, who represents the workers.

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“How early could that come in? Your guess is as good as mine.”

Andrew Cassidy, the mayor of Hay River, says the shifting strike dates compound a difficult situation for the town’s residents.

“It’s unfortunate that there have been a few of these false starts. There’s a lot of confusion in town now,” Cassidy told Moose FM.

“We’re not sure what will happen for the weekend – there is a minor hockey tournament scheduled and I know the parents aren’t sure what’s happening, which is a little unfortunate.

“Until such time as we get a valid notice to strike, we’re simply continuing with business as usual.”

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

The Union of Northern Workers says strike action will still take place as soon as possible, which could be as early as 72 hours after that approval is received.

The dispute centres on pay increases for staff over the next three years.

“The two sides are actually very close. I feel confused as to why we’re even finding ourselves in this position, because we are that close,” said Bourassa.

The union insists it wants negotiations to continue. The town says it’s unable to improve on its offer of a 1% annual pay increase in each of the next three years.

“It reflects the current situation we’re facing as a community,” said Cassidy.

“We’re offering a small increase but at the same time we need to consider our infrastructure and our expenses as we move forward. We need to control our expenditure and increase our revenues.

“Our wages are one of our biggest costs right now and there is a lot of capital expense coming up that we’re going to have to begin budgeting for. Hopefully the union can recognize that and understand there is not a lot of bargaining room in the short term.”

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