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Qulliq Energy strike vote called 'message to company

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 5, 2011

Qulliq Energy Corporation employees have a strike mandate but likely won't hit the picket lines, if at all, until well into next year.

The collective agreement between the energy corporation and its approximately 160 unionized employees expired on Dec. 31, 2010. Strike votes took place in various locations across the territory from September to mid-November and members of the Nunavut Employees Union (NEU), part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, have voted to strike.

"Negotiations so far have been all about the employer's demands for concessions from our members," stated NEU president Doug Workman in a press release.

"The members have said enough is enough and voted 89 per cent in favour of a strike if necessary."

Both parties are set to meet the mediator in April to help break the impasse in negotiating a three-year collective agreement before any strike occurs.

Meanwhile, Workman said they have a strong vote mandate.

"I hope the message is very clear to the Qulliq Energy Corporation that the membership supports our position in negotiations," he said from Ottawa. "We certainly want increases to reflect the cost of living in Nunavut. We're not prepared to take any concessions, so hopefully when we go to mediation ... they'll be coming ready to negotiate a fair collective agreement for our members."

The corporation had tabled proposals which include reducing sick leave travel expenses for very young children and stopping the practice of taking days off in lieu of overtime, stated NEU in a press release.

It adds the corporation also refuses to recognize increases in living expenses, such as the cost of food.

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