Unionized housing workers in Iqaluit are now on strike over wages
Iqaluit Housing Authority workers picket Friday morning demanding better wages, increases in allowances and no concessions.
The strike began at 8:00 am in front of the Iqaluit Housing Authority building on Federal Road.
About 13 workers are on strike. Ten of them were out on Friday morning in -26C – wind chill of -42C – with signs and noisemakers, rotating between pickets and warming up in cars.
Members belong to the Nunavut Employees Union, which is part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). The union informed the housing authority Monday of a possible strike and said the housing authority issued a notice on Wednesday that it would lock out workers this weekend.
Jason Rochon, the union’s president, said there had been no movement in negotiations since Tuesday.
On Thursday evening, the union posted a letter to Facebook from Rochon and PSAC North representative Lorraine Rousseau, addressed to Lorne Kusugak, the minister in charge of Nunavut Housing Corporation, and Eiryn Devereaux, the housing company’s president and CEO.
The company oversees the Iqaluit Housing Authority’s budget, including staff salaries, the union said.
The letter said the strike action was announced “after all attempts to reach a fair settlement on behalf of unionized workers had been exhausted [housing authority] and was not made easy.”
CBC News has reached out to the housing authority and Nunavut Housing Corporation and will update this story once it receives a response.
In a statement Tuesday, the housing association said there would be impacts on operations if workers decided to go on strike. It was also noted that the housing authority had contingency plans in place to ensure critical maintenance services continued.
Negotiations between the union and the housing authority hit an impasse in the autumn and broke down completely earlier this week.
The union said the housing authority is currently offering a wage increase of between 1.25 and 1.5 percent, but workers are asking for more.
“Employee of [housing authority] have left and left this employer for better paying jobs in Iqaluit [housing authority] into disarray and put unhealthy pressure on the remaining staff,” Rochon wrote in Thursday’s letter.
“This is not an Iqaluit issue. Local housing organizations across Nunavut are in the same dire situation.”
He added the unions are urging the housing association to step in and help resolve the impasse.