"Get out of the courtroom"
Commission presses for pay equity conciliation

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 12/97) - The Canadian Human Rights Commission says the GNWT should get out of the courtroom and start discussing the merits of a pay equity challenge brought by the Union of Northern Workers.

The Federal Court of Appeal last month dismissed a GNWT motion to have the challenge thrown out.

Union president Jackie Simpson has estimated $70 million is owed to current and past employees who were underpaid.

The government contended the commission, which will now rule on the challenge, had no jurisdiction in the territories.

The GNWT also argued that a study concluding the government was underpaying female workers was biased because one of its authors belonged to Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"We've contacted the parties and said 'let's get on with the merits of the complaint, get back to the process that was in place before these court challenges took over,'" said Bob Fagan, regional director for the commission.

The government can now answer the UNW complaint by getting involved in the Canadian Human Rights tribunal case or to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In spite of repeated commitments to do so, the government has yet to indicate what its next step will be.

Finance Minister John Todd, responsible for advising cabinet on the issue, said last week he would be making an announcement Monday, but none was forthcoming.

Herb Hunt, director of labor relations and compensation, said the territorial government will likely be making a decision within the next few days.

"We've been doing the analysis, now we're waiting for the decision-making process," said Hunt.