UNW warns workers
Power Corp. employees haven't had collective agreement since 1998

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 19/00) - The Union of Northern Workers (UNW) is warning its members at the Northwest Territories Power Corporation not to participate in a rumoured "sick out" protest.

The internal notice, which was faxed to Yellowknifer, advised employees that should they consider such action they could face serious penalties.

The protest stems from ongoing negotiations between UNW and the Power Corp. over an Essential Services Agreement.

"We don't want members to take illegal actions," said Barbara Wynes, media liaison with the UNW.

Under the Public Services Act, the union can't strike unless an agreement is in place.

Power Corp. employees have been without a collective agreement since Dec. 31, 1998.

Talks stalled in February after management requested mediation, despite the union's stated willingness to continue negotiating.

Mediation is scheduled for June.

"I want to see them live up to their obligation in the matter of the Essential Services Agreement," said UNW president Georgina Rolt-Kaiser.

"The right to take job action is the cornerstone of unionism," she said, adding, "Management seems to be acting as if this were a game.

Toying with our member's livelihoods is no game."

Cheryl Donahue, personnel manager for the Power Corp. says management is not stalling.

"We've been negotiating the Essential Services Agreement with the Public Services Alliance of Canada (PSAC) for a year," she said. "I was surprised when the union called to negotiate."

According to Wynes there is no difference between dealing with the UNW or PSAC.

"We are they -- they are us," she said. "It's like a husband and wife relationship.

There are approximately 150 workers employed with the NWT Power Corporation.