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Strike over at Trailcross

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 27, 2007

FORT SMITH - A strike by 17 unionized workers has ended at the Trailcross Treatment Centre in Fort Smith.

Agreement on a new contract was reached Aug. 23 after two days of negotiations in Yellowknife - ending a labour dispute that began Aug. 7 at the treatment centre for children, aged 13-16, with social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties.

The two-year deal, which has been ratified by the workers, covers the period from April 1, 2006, to March 31, 2008.

It provides a salary increase of 3.2 per cent in each of the two years. There are also improvements to vacation leave, increased standby allowances, and updated language against discrimination. Employees will also now be able to have overtime paid out at their own discretion.

The counsellors and support workers are jointly represented by the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Trailcross will reopen on Monday, said G.R. (Gus) Rozycki, executive director and CEO of Edmonton-based Bosco Homes, a non-profit group which runs the facility.

Rozycki is looking forward to Trailcross getting back in operation.

"We're not in the business of not operating," he said.

Rozycki said it will be a few more days before children are accepted into the treatment centre.

The eight children at the facility prior to the strike were placed in foster homes by the Department of Health and Social Services.

Gayla Wick, the first vice-president of UNW, is pleased the dispute is over.

"The job these workers do with children at risk is very important to the North and now they can get on with their work," Wick said.