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Mediator plugged in to
help resolve power dispute

Sydney Selvon
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 16/06) - A mediator has been appointed to help resolve the labour dispute between the NWT Power Corp. and 130 employees who are members of the Union of Northern Workers.

When both sides sit down at the table in May, Colin Taylor, of Vancouver, will join them in the hopes of finding some common ground and hammering out a new collective agreement.

Both the Power Corp. and the union declined to comment on the specific issues requiring mediation.

However, the main areas of disagreement are the job evaluation process, pay, hours of work and the grievance arbitration mechanism.

"Taylor's services as an arbitrator have been used by the corporation and the NWT government before," said Cheryle Donahue, the Power Corp.'s human resources manager. "The agreement over a mediator was a quick decision reached by both parties."

She was quick to add there is a difference between arbitration and mediation.

"As a mediator, Taylor will not make a decision, but will try to get both parties to reach an agreement," she said.

Union president Todd Parsons confirmed he and his members have agreed to Taylor's inclusion as mediator for future talks.

Talks broke-off last November and the old collective agreement expired on Dec. 31.

The union wants a 3.25 per cent pay increase whereas the employer has proposed 2.25 per cent.

The union also opposes an employer proposal which it believes would have office employees scheduled for up to 12 hours a day, for "10 days in a row without a break," said Parsons.

On the grievance arbitration issue, the union believes the employer wants "to slow down the entire process" and to "download the costs to the union," he said.