Yellowknife council, workers approve collective agreement ending strike

Strikers on the picket line outside Yellowknife City Hall last week. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
Strikers on the picket line outside Yellowknife City Hall last week. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

Yellowknife city council and unionized municipal workers have approved a new collective agreement, ending a five week strike and lockout.

At 9 p.m. Friday, council members gave third reading to a bylaw to approve the new agreement after council received word that union members had voted to ratify it earlier in the day.

In a press release posted on its website the Union of Northern Workers (UNW) and parent union The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) say the new agreement includes a compounded wage increase of 5.8 per cent. In emails obtained by CBC, the union says workers will receive a wage increase of three per cent retroactive to 2022 and 2.75 per cent for 2023.

In its release, the UNW says workers will also receive a one-time signing bonus of $1,800 for full-time employees, $850 for part-time and seasonal employees and $300 for casual part-time employees.

"The last few weeks have been long, cold, and hard. I am amazed by the strength of the members and their ability to keep their humour throughout," UNW President Gayla Thunstrom says in the release.

"I am so proud of the members standing up for what they believe in and for each other."

At Friday night's council meeting, mayor Rebecca Alty said city facilities will not immediately reopen and that it will be a "phased" reopening. What that reopening will look like is unclear.

Hilary Bird/CBC
Hilary Bird/CBC

The five-week labour dispute was marred with controversy as both sides repeatedly accused the other of negotiating in "bad faith".

City administration also accused picketers of harassing contract workers crossing the picket lines at the solid waste facility and the area where the new aquatic facility is being built.

Last month, the city won an injunction in N.W.T Supreme Court to restrict the amount of time picketers could hold up workers and vehicles trying to get past picket lines.

But PSAC North regional executive vice president, Lorraine Rousseau says picketers felt the support of the local community.

"Over the past weeks, city workers showed us what solidarity looks like … we were surrounded by solidarity from Yellowknife's residents, local businesses, and unions from coast to coast to coast."