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Hay River strike: Town offer rejected, work contracted out

Striking Town of Hay River workers have rejected their employer’s latest wage offer.

The proposal, which was put forward on May 25, was voted on and overwhelmingly defeated Wednesday night.

If passed, it would have seen employees earn an annual 1.7% wage increase over a three-year collective agreement.

Read: Hay River Strike: Talks Resume, Union Relents on Arbitration

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“To date this is the closest they’ve come,” said Jack Bourassa, regional executive vice president with PSAC North, which is representing the striking workers.

“But there was a request that the offer be placed to the membership because, for whatever reason, there was an assumption that others were influencing the members.

“So we put the offer to the members so that there’d be a clear message that it is not the outside influences that are dictating what’s happening with the striking members.

“The members have demonstrated solidarity by themselves rejecting the employer’s last offer.”

Hay River mayor Andrew Cassidy was noticeably disappointed with the decision.

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“It’s unfortunate and it’s a little bit frustrating,” he told Moose FM. “We’ve been working very hard to try to come to an agreement and obviously the last effort wasn’t enough.”

Cassidy says councillors will meet for an in camera session on Friday to discuss possible next steps. In the meantime, some maintenance and equipment work has already been contracted out in the community.

“We need to make sure anything we have that’s an asset to the community is safe and maintained.

“Obviously we can’t rely on the staff to do that at this point in time so we have to look for other sources so we’ve contracted out some of that type of work already.

“It’s unfortunate that the residents and the community are going to be bearing the brunt of this.”

31 employees have been on strike since February 9.

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