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Conciliator called in

Phone company labour negotiations in 'sensitive' phase

Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 06/02) - Northerners looking to reach out and touch someone might have a few problems in the near future.

A federal conciliator has been called in to assist negotiations between Northwestel and the union representing almost 350 workers across the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1574 have been without a new contract since the previous three-year collective agreement expired Dec. 31.

The union represents Northwestel operators, technicians and clerical employees

The two sides have been negotiating since September.

Sources on both sides of the bargaining table remain tight-lipped about Northwestel's last offer, saying talks were at a "sensitive" stage.

IBEW business manager Ernest Ness said it "was lower than we expected."

Northwestel spokesperson Anne Grainger said the company does not comment on ongoing labour negotiations.

"We're still in negotiations and there's no other information that I can give out at this time," she said.

Canadian Industrial Relations Board conciliator Bill Lewis will meet with both sides Feb. 12.

Ness said members would have to vote on Northwestel's final offer before a strike vote could be held.

"We'll just have to take it from there," he added.