A Hay River company wants to save the town’s summer kids’ programming after ongoing strike action led the town to cancel its plans.
Earlier this week, in the absence of staff and with picket lines threatened, town officials withdrew their traditional eight-week Summer Heat program.
Now, the Rowe’s Group – which operates the Riverview Cineplex and Ptarmigan Inn alongside construction work and property management – has stepped forward to run programming in the town’s place.
“I have seen that Summer Heat has been cancelled due to the strike,” wrote Rowe’s property manager Michelle Schaub on Facebook.
“Rowe’s would like to run the program this summer and are currently looking for program coordinators and program supervisors.
“We will be posting more information in the near future in regards to the program. Here’s to a great summer in Hay River!”
Read: Strike shuts down Hay River’s summer program for kids
Summer Heat, which can cater for up to 60 children aged between six and 12, usually operates at capacity.
Anyone interested in working on summer programming with Rowe’s can email [email protected] or call (867) 875-7225. Schaub told Moose FM planning began on Tuesday morning and more details will follow.
Meanwhile, the Union of Northern Workers laid the blame for the cancellation of children’s programming squarely at the town’s door.
“These announcements push this dispute to new heights,” said union vice-president Gayla Thunstrom, referring to Monday’s cancellation of Summer Heat.
The union expressed particular fury at the town’s plan to hire contractors for safety inspections and groundskeeping at local parks and fields.
“We cannot allow scabs to take our members’ work,” said Thunstrom. “And we must not see this program cancelled when arbitration can provide an immediate solution.”
The union reiterated its call for third-party binding arbitration – an offer the town has declined, though mayor Andrew Cassidy maintains the town is committed to bargaining and wants the union to return to negotiations.
The union has not yet commented on the Rowe’s Group’s decision to explore offering its own, private summer programming.
The strike, over future pay increases, has now entered its fourth month.