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The Union of Northern Workers is a leading advocate for social, political, economic and environmental justice.  

We work in partnership in the North with the Public Service Alliance of Canada North, our sister Yukon Employees Union and Nunavut Employees Union and the Northern Territories Federation of Labour.  We are a partner in the national actions of the PSAC and the Canadian Labour Congress.

Our advocacy and political action includes:

  • Education of Members on workers’ rights, and support for political action through campaign schools, election activities and programs
  • Public advocacy through media relations, events and demonstrations, lobbying of federal, territorial and municipal political leaders
  • Partnership in advocacy with NWT social justice organizations

In February 2023, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) proposed to replace its Affirmative Action Policy with an Indigenous Employment Policy and an Employment Equity Policy.

The Union of Northern Workers is pleased that the Affirmative Action Policy is being reviewed and replaced. The UNW views employment equity as a critical tool in combatting workplace discrimination. When direct and systemic employment barriers are removed, then all workers feel valued, included, and recognized for their abilities and contributions rather than judged based on intangible and inherent characteristics.

An effectively designed, implemented, and managed Employment Equity Policy could move the GNWT toward a workforce that is more representative of the actual population of the Northwest Territories.

It is also critical that the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission be implemented in terms of the decolonization of the public service. In order to ensure success of the new Indigenous Employment Policy and the Employment Equity Policy there needs to be a concerted effort and planning that normalizes reconciliation and the value of Indigenous knowledge and ways of being in the workplace.

On March 31, 2023, the Union of Northern Workers submitted comments as part of the consultation process that ended on April 28:

You can also check out our Equity Members page for more information and resources about employment Equity and Equity in the workplace.

In addition to immediate emergency expenses like food, transportation, and accommodations, most people who experience an evacuation take a huge financial hit in pay. Those who are unable to work remotely or in other temporary jobs are forced to use up leave banks or, if their employer does not offer paid leave, go without a paycheque.

The Government of the Northwest Territories needs to be more proactive by enacting strong labour laws that protect workers from job insecurity or financial hardship caused by environmental factors beyond their control – such as legislating paid sick leave, and paid leave for those whose livelihoods are directly affected by a natural disaster.

From April 24 to June 18, 2023, the GNWT is reviewing the Employment Standards Act and is seeking public input.

The GNWT is looking for feedback on topics that are relevant to those experiencing job insecurity do to environmental emergencies, such as:

  • Whether NWT workers should be entitled to legislated paid sick leave
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Types of job-protected leave available to employees

NWT workers, employers and residents can complete an online survey by June 18, 2023:

More Information

For more information about how environmental emergencies impact workers, check out the links below:

Worried but Working Banner


Health and Social Service Workers are Worried But Working!

This is NOT unique to Stanton. This is NOT unique to Child and Family Services.

Healthcare workers all over the NWT are overworked, tired, stressed, and worried.  


What are YOU worried about?  Send us a message through our Worried But Working! website or contact the UNW Service Department.

Please include your name and contact info, so we can verify if you are a member or not, and follow up with you for any additional information that may help. 

link --> PSAC Social Justice Fund Website

The promotion of the right to decent work, quality public services, human rights and equality are cornerstones of the PSAC Social Justice Fund. Through education, mobilization and empowerment, PSAC's Social Justice Fund works to advance the role of our members in building stronger communities, a better country and a more just and humane world.

In 2003, PSAC's National Board of Directors created the Social Justice Fund to house the work in five priority areas:

  • Humanitarian relief in Canada and around the world;
  • Anti-poverty initiatives in Canada;
  • International Labour Development;
  • Worker-to-Worker Exchanges;
  • Worker Education in Canada and around the world.

Then, in the spring of 2003, delegates to the PSAC Triennial Convention resolved to make the SJF a bargaining priority for all units in order to sustain the SJF over the long term.

PSAC has joined a long list of Canadian unions that have set up a labour fund to house their work in social justice at home and around the world, including, Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Union of Postal Workers Communications, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Union of Energy and Paperworkers, and the United Steelworkers.

SJF Board

PSAC's Social Justice Fund is governed by the PSAC Social Justice Fund Board (SJFB), which consists of all the members of PSAC's National Board of Directors. The SJFB meets once per year to establish and approve the parameters and guidelines for the partners and projects to be supported by the SJF over the following year.

SJF Steering Committee

The Social Justice Fund Steering Committee has two major tasks:

  • to serve as an advisory committee to the Social Justice Fund Board, and to develop the parameters and guidelines to be approved annually by the SJF; and
  • to administer the SJF and approve specific projects and programs within the parameters approved by the SJFB.

The SJF Steering Committee is currently composed of:

  • Chris Aylward – PSAC National President
  • Marianne Hladun – PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies
  • Marc Brière,  National President, Union of Taxation Employees (UTE)
  • Gayla Thunstrom - President, Union of Northern Workers (UNW)

Historical Campaigns

GNWT Labour Relations has told the UNW that Stanton’s 8 Facilities Management Workers face lay-off. Documents obtained by the UNW show the contracting out couldn't be even broader. The lay-offs could come as early as June 2015.

Stanton Territorial Health Authority plans to replace these workers with contracted-out services. The lay-offs are the latest in a management campaign of privatization. Food services and housekeeping have already been contracted out.

The UNW has filed a grievance challenging the failure to consult on plans for contracting out.

The privatization hurts workers, hurts patients and hurts the hospital and GNWT.

Take Action! You Could Be Next!

Call Your MLA and say “No Way” to more privatization

Ask your friends, neighbors and local businesses to call MLAs and say they oppose privatization