Union ready to negotiate
But only if GNWT removes pay equity complaint

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 12/98) - A rift continues to exist between the Union of Northern Workers and the territorial government over contract negotiations.

The UNW has told the GNWT it's willing to get back to the negotiating table, but only if the government agrees to withdraw the pay equity complaint from contract talks.

"The GNWT has said it's willing to return to the table. It's even said that it's willing to consider changes to their final offer," said UNW president Jackie Simpson.

"But they're also saying that they will not compromise on the main issue in the dispute."

The union believes the government is making an empty offer to return to the table just so it can buy time and strengthen its legal position with the union's court challenge.

The push to get back to the table comes after last month's Canadian Human Rights Commission tribunal ruling in favor of the Public Service Alliance of Canada's claim that the federal government pay system is biased against women.

Following the ruling finance minister John Todd said he is satisfied with some of the recommendations of the judgments made by the tribunal and that their pay-equity settlement offer is good, if not better, than what the tribunal decision offered its federal clerks.

Todd said if he is correct in thinking their pay-equity offer is better than what is being recommended in this tribunal judgment, he would like to get back to the bargaining table with a mediator and put the offer out to the people where it belongs.

But Simpson said the GNWT's final offer is way off the mark.

"Their assessment of the federal decision is simply outrageous," she said.

"The federal award contained retroactivity, it applied to employees who were discriminated against and it used a methodology to calculate the extent of wage discrimination which seems to be much different from that used by the GNWT."

The GNWT's pay-equity complaint is expected to go before a tribunal in the near future with pre-hearing dates set for late September.

Calls to GNWT officials and John Todd's office were not returned by press time.