NWT Premier Bob McLeod cut short a constituency meeting Tuesday evening as members of the Union of Northern Workers gathered and began asking questions.
The union’s regional vice president of North Great Slave Sean Dalton says he attended the meeting as he is a constituent of McLeod’s. The Premier is also MLA for Yellowknife South.
“He started off the tone of the meeting in a very negative way and asked and removed a reporter from CBC who was just there,” Dalton says. The reporter, John Last, stated on Twitter he was removed as the Premier ‘did not want constituents’ statements recorded.’
“A group of people from the UNW did arrive and he promptly ended his meeting,” Dalton says, who estimates around 30 members were present.
A video posted on Twitter by Last appears to show union members questioning the Premier about an internal email sent to government employees on how to cross a picket line in the event of a strike.
The email, shared with MyYellowknifeNow by the union, outlines protocol for workers should a strike go ahead Monday. It also addresses workers who ‘may want to work’ during the strike.
“If you choose to report to work, you may need to cross a picket line at the beginning or end of your work day and your supervisor will discuss with you the protocol for doing so,” the email states.
“Why are you encouraging members to cross the picket line? Don’t you know the history? Are you ignorant to the history of the North?” one UNW member says in the video, alluding to the 1992 Giant Mine strike-lockout.
During the eighteen-month lockout, replacement workers were brought in to keep the mine operational. The picket line and mine site were the scenes of several violent incidents and on the 18th of September nine miners were killed by a bomb, which Roger Warren was later found guilty of planting.
At 3 p.m. Tuesday president of the union Todd Parsons told media he had given strike notice to the government. If a weekend mediation session does not result in a tentative agreement, 4,000 government workers across the NWT will be on strike starting Monday.
Later in the afternoon Tuesday Premier McLeod opened the third sitting of the 18th Legislative Assembly with a speech that included no mention of a looming UNW strike.
A request for comment has been sent to the office of Premier Bob McLeod regarding the meeting and to the Department of Finance regarding the email.