Unifor, province still at impasse

Some people are back to work, but the battle between Unifor and the province continues.

On Friday, Oct. 4, workers from SaskTel, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskWater, the Water Security Agencies and two SaskTel subsidiaries went on strike.

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The majority of workers headed back to work on Oct. 8, though negotiations had still reached an impasse. The exception was SaskTel, which will not allow workers back until there is a completed collective agreement. In a release, they stated that only having 24 hours notice before the strike could resume would be too much uncertainty, as SaskTel needs 48 hours to prepare for a strike.

The sticking point is wages. The government’s proposal is a five per cent wage increase over the next five years. Minister of Finance Donna Harpaur released the following statement.

“As strike action commences among seven Unifor bargaining units, our government would like to thank the crown employers and essential employees who are working together to ensure that essential services remain in place.

“We continue to believe that strike action is not in the best interests of crown corporations, employees, or the people of Saskatchewan. We believe that the employer offer of five percent over five years respects the hard work of crown employees while balancing the fiscal reality of our province, and we remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached at the bargaining table in good faith.”

Unifor, meanwhile, wants a wage increase that follows the rate of inflation, or approximately two per cent per year.

In announcing their return to work, Unifor took a dig at Premier Scott Moe, criticizing him for leaving the province.

“Scott Moe gave himself a raise with taxpayers money, while creating a major service disruption across the province. At the first sign of trouble he promptly left for a trade junket to Asia,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, adding, “Real leaders accept responsibility for their actions, roll up their sleeves, and actively work to find a solution.”

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