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Hay River strike: Workers will picket event, ‘won’t be ignored’

The union leading a strike in Hay River has reaffirmed its plans to picket a major conference, despite organizers moving the event out of the town.

The NWT Association of Communities (NWTAC) has moved next month’s annual general meeting from the town to the nearby Hay River Reserve.

In doing so, the association said it hoped to “maintain neutrality” and asked both sides in the current dispute to “remain respectful of our meeting”.

Read: Pan-NWT event tries to avoid Hay River strike, changes location

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However, a representative of the workers says the event – which begins on May 7 – can expect to be picketed if the strike is ongoing.

“They don’t have neutrality,” said Jack Bourassa, regional representative of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

“A great many of those mayors [attending the NWTAC’s event] also have members who are union members. To cross the line to attend these meetings is in itself an affront to the members that work for them.

“Anywhere Hay River takes that event, we will picket it.”

Bourassa told Moose FM the union would leave the event in peace if it were moved to a location farther from the town. He suggested Yellowknife.

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The strike, now more than two months old, may yet end before the NWTAC’s annual general meeting takes place. Negotiations in the workers’ salary dispute with the Town of Hay River are set to resume on Sunday.

Read: Town of Hay River and union head back to negotiating table

“My optimism is there. I sincerely believe, this time, it’s not just going to be an idle round of negotiations without anything happening,” said Bourassa.

“But Hay River needs to deal with the members before they start moving on. We’re not going to be treated like the white elephant in the middle of the living room who’s going to be ignored.

“The mayor and council will have to deal with us if they want to carry on business as usual.”

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