Premier Bob McLeod issued the following statement today on events at the Yellowknife South constituency meeting on the evening of February 5, 2019:
“I am disappointed by the events that took place at my constituency meeting last night. These meetings are an important opportunity for me to hear about all priorities and concerns from residents of my riding. The constituency meeting was not meant to be a forum to carry on negotiations that will be taking place in another forum.
“Legal strike action is not yet in effect. The conduct in the parking lot outside my constituency meeting last night was not part of a lawful picket. We expect the union leadership will ensure their members understand their rights and their responsibilities. The events of last night were unfortunate, and we hope that they will not be repeated.
“I want to assure the public and Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) employees that our government remains committed to a negotiated agreement and we are going to already-scheduled mediation meetings with the Union of Northern Workers this week to work hard to achieve that.
“With mediation still to take place and potentially an agreement or recommendations from the mediator coming as a result of that, I do not believe that there is a need at this time to circumvent the established bargaining process and call for direct political intervention.
“While we recognize that a strike is likely to be accompanied by heightened tension, we expect the union and its members to respect elected officials, and that the same respect will be given to members and union officials. Regardless of our differences, we expect that all employees will conduct themselves respectfully.
“I fully respect the rights of employees to bargain collectively and our government remains committed to coming to a fair agreement with the Union of Northern Workers that is also fiscally responsible, while putting an end to the current uncertainty its members are experiencing.”