Hay River strike enters week three, atmosphere ‘tense’

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A strike by Town of Hay River workers begins its third week on Monday.

Thirty of the town’s workers are on strike in a dispute over pay.

Union officials admit residents and workers have faced a ‘tense’ atmosphere in recent days as the strike continues to affect services like recreation.

Workers held an event on Sunday at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre in a bid to get their message out to residents and “heal frayed nerves”.

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Writing on Facebook, Rachel Yee – the town’s administration officer and one of the workers on strike – hit out at her employer for ‘disrespect’ shown to staff.

Yee implored residents to see striking workers as “the same people you come to for help … not your enemy”.

She wrote: “Working for the town over the last year and a half has been very difficult for employees in all departments. The leadership is lacking and it is evident.

“It was a very difficult decision by the town employees and myself to take this action at this time. The employees could not continue to work without a contract. Not sure how many of you would go without a contract for this long or wage increase for two years.

“I am not on the picket line for myself. It is about respect for the employees who have worked for the town for years, some as long at 30 years. The disrespect shown by the current management, mayor and council will no longer be tolerated.”

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Read: Rachel Yee’s full message on Facebook

Other Facebook users warned community members to remain civil, over fears the ongoing strike could have lasted consequences for relations between residents.

“We are a tiny community. Let’s just remember that 3,500 people is not enough of a space to be falling apart at the seams,” wrote one resident.

“You will see these people on either side of the schism that is currently happening in our town, and you will continue to live in close vicinity to them. So let’s keep it decent.”

The town has not made an official statement about the strike since workers confirmed industrial action in early February.

Administration maintains it is unable to increase its offer of a 1% year-on-year pay increase as no further funding exists – something striking workers dispute.

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