Editor, Your Nov. 11 editorial, “GNWT abuse of term positions unfair,” makes a number of valid points but contains some errors which need correction.
First, it is not true that the Union of Northern Workers does not advocate on behalf of employees kept in term positions. The UNW has consistently bargained for an end to the repetition of term appointments, has made some progress in the past and will continue to bargain on these members’ behalf.
It’s incorrect to say that term employees do not enjoy the same benefits as indeterminate employees. The UNW has been successful in ensuring that these term employees are eligible for ALL benefits available to indeterminate employees. UNW research also indicates that there is no cost savings to the government from maintaining these employees in term status. Also, your reference to employees filing grievances to challenge term appointments is incorrect. Grievances are filed to challenge violations of the collective agreement, but since the collective agreement does not govern whether appointments are term or indeterminate, it is not possible to file a grievance seeking indeterminate appointment.
Your editorial asks, “is the government so calloused that it puts its new employees through the grinder for years…?” The UNW agrees this is callous and a hardship to employees and their families. It hampers the government’s ability to retain employees with the knowledge and experience built up over the years and contradicts the GNWT’s stated priority of recruiting and retaining long time employees.
The revolving door of term appointments needs to change and only the employer—the government of the NWT—can take this action. We will continue to lobby the GNWT to end the unreasonable uncertainty of continuous term appointments and include this improvement in our bargaining demands for future contracts.
The Union of Northern Workers thanks you for bringing this issue to prominence through your editorial.
Todd Parsons, President, Union of Northern Workers