After 25 weeks , the strike in Hay River is over.
On Wednesday night, council ratified a new collective bargaining agreement between the Town and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a union representing roughly 30 striking municipal workers.
The three-year agreement, which is set to expire on December 31, 2016, will see workers earn wage increases of 2% on January 1, 2014, 2% on January 1, 2015 and 1.75% on January 1, 2016.
Originally, the Town was offering an annual pay raise of 1% over the three years while the union’s position was for 2.5%, 2.25% and 2.25% annually.
“I’m happy that the strike is over,” said Hay River Mayor Andrew Cassidy. “It’s time for our community to move on from this.”
“It’s not a settlement that we were aiming for, but at the end of the day council also realized that the strike had to end.”
Last week, the union told Moose FM the settlement was a compromise to the wage increase demands members have held out for since February.
But after more than five months of sporadic meetings and some mudslinging, both parties agreed a resolution was necessary.
Employees will return to work as early as next week.
“We have a return-to-work agreement and it stipulates that beginning next Wednesday, staff will be returning to work,” said Cassidy.
“We’re going to do a phased approach so starting next Wednesday and for the subsequent week we’ll be bringing staff on.
“It doesn’t make sense to bring everyone back at the same time. We’ll bring in some of the priority staff first and then we’ll phase the rest of the staff in as duties roll out.”
Both sides expressed relief following Wednesday’s vote at town hall.
In a post on the Town of Hay River Strike Facebook page, a member wrote: “This has been a difficult labour dispute in a small town and over the course of the strike unwanted comments and actions were made.”
“I’m proud to say that our members never breached the protocols established despite provocations to engage in rumbles and other confrontations.
“Going forward I wish these members a smooth transition back into the workplace.”
Cassidy admits there was some mudslinging in the past 25 weeks, but that he’s happy council stayed away from it as much as possible.
“Council stayed fairly clear of it and did not get too involved so I expressed my appreciation for that.
“Moving forward I expect council will welcome staff back to work. We can move forward, we have to move forward and we will.”