A threat of unionized municipal staff going on strike continues to loom over the Town of Ponoka.

Last week, town workers represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees voted in favour of a strike and can serve 72 hours’ notice to walk off the job.

AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers said they thought the two sides had a deal reached with the help of a third-party mediator.

“At the table, we did shake hands with what was a reasonable agreement with town administration, which was there to negotiate on behalf of the employer. That agreement was actually struck down by the Mayor and council,” Weiers said.

While Weiers has called that “disrespectful,” Mayor Rick Bonnett maintains the town has been negotiating in good faith.

“Administration doesn’t have the power or the authority to decide on that. They could only bring it back to council and ask. No different than a union going back and asking its members,” Bonnett said.

Both sides have said they were willing to return to the bargaining table however, neither named a date for a next meeting.

The AUPE represents 66 town workers across several departments, including public works, to recreation and utilities.

A statement from the municipality said it does have a plan to ensure that essential services are still provided. The Mayor said part of that will include contracting out operations for the duration of any strike.

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