Hay River mayor Andrew Cassidy believes the Town and striking workers are closer to a deal than ever as the two sides get set to return to the bargaining table next week.
On Thursday, the Union of Northern Workers revealed that the two parties will sit down together on Monday.
31 Town employees have been out of work since February 9 over a wage dispute.
Cassidy told Moose FM he’s optimistic a deal can be struck this time.
“I’m very confident. We’re not that far apart – the only thing that we’re really negotiating now is the wage increase,” he said.
“I think we’re all kind of on the same page as far as the duration of the collective agreement and we’re only a little ways apart on the wages.
“I’m pretty optimistic that we will be able to find a solution that we’ll both stand behind.”
Cassidy says the two sides are only a half percentage off in terms of wage increases.
Because the sides are so close, he’s convinced third-party binding arbitration isn’t the answer.
“We feel that we’re close enough that we should be able to figure this out between the two parties.
“If the two parties were so polarized and so far apart that there was really no middle ground, then I could see arbitration as a possible outcome but with 0.5% difference we feel we can work ourselves through that.”
Monday will mark the fourth time the two sides will sit down together since the labour dispute began three and a half months ago.
“It’s been long and it’s been very hard,” Cassidy said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to put an end to it and get back to work and begin rebuilding relationships.”