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Northern unions are calling on the federal government to stop the use of replacement workers as a strike by unionized staff with the Iqaluit Housing Authority nears the 70-day mark.

The Nunavut Employees Union and delegates of the Public Service Alliance of Canada North rallied in support of the 13 striking workers in Iqaluit, where a union convention is being held.

They called on federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Reagan, who has promised to introduce legislation barring replacement workers, to intervene as the housing authority has hired them during the labour dispute.

The Iqaluit Housing Authority recently issued a new proposal and ended its worker lockout in hopes of ending the dispute.

That includes a 7.25 per cent increase over five years and a lump-sum payment of 3.5 per cent on ratification.

The union has rejected the offer saying the wages do not keep pace with inflation and the high cost of living in the North, and the proposal includes reductions to maternity and vacation leave.

“You have an employer that’s totally turned their backs on workers,” Jason Rochon, president of the Nunavut Employees Union, said Friday.

“I’m really glad that local workers know they’re worth and they know they’re doing the right thing.”