Workers support teachers
Donation adds to NWTTA war chest

Terry Kruger
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 19/00) - As teachers throughout the North prepare to up the ante in their fight for a new contract with the GNWT, union members in Yellowknife are showing their support.

Talks between the NWT Teachers' Association and the government broke off Jan. 14 as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on how to reduce class size and improve services for special needs students.

There are no plans for a resumption of talks, and now NWTTA president Pat Thomas said the union is preparing to step up their job action.

"We're considering the option of full withdrawal," said Thomas, who planned to discuss the issue with her colleagues in a telephone conference Jan. 17.

She declined to say when a full-scale strike could begin. Besides working to rule, teachers began a series of rotating strikes Jan. 10. The strike hits the local area Thursday, when teachers at Kaw Tay Whee school in Dettah walk off the job. They will return to work on Friday.

While the next step is a full strike, Thomas remains hopeful the election of a new premier could break the impasse.

She cheered the election of Stephen Kakfwi as premier as a "positive signal." The new premier has indicated a desire to get the dispute settled.

As the dispute drags on, and the NWTTA moves closer to a full-scale strike, other unions are showing their support.

Leading the way financially was Local 10 of the Union of Northern Workers.

The local, which represents transportation workers in Yellowknife, voted to donate $2,000 to the NWTTA strike fund.

"Two thousand dollars to us, when we pay $50 strike pay per day, is very much appreciated," said Thomas.

UNW Local 10 president Gary Walsh challenged other UNW locals and the Public Service Alliance of Canada to show their solidarity and also donate to the teachers' cause.

Thomas said support from teachers in other areas, including Yellowknife and throughout Canada, is starting to come in.