August 3, 2018 6:02 pm
Updated: August 3, 2018 7:55 pm

Previous SGEU strike cost Sask. government millions: a 2007 look back

WATCH ABOVE: The SGEU may go on strike if talks continue to stall with the Sask. government. Last time the province's largest public sector union went on strike it cost Saskatchewan millions.

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The Saskatchewan General Employees Union (SGEU) has received a strike mandate from its membership as contract negotiations have been ongoing since October 2016. The union rejected the last contract offer in April.

The province’s largest public sector union has said this mandate does not necessarily mean job action, but instead added strength at the bargaining table.

READ MORE: SGEU seeks strike mandate against Saskatchewan government


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Both the union and province have said they are committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.

If talks do fall through and a strike is called, it could prove costly to the public purse.

On Dec. 20, 2006, SGEU members working at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre informed the media by fax they were walking off the job at 11 p.m.

Correctional workers in Regina and Prince Albert quickly joined the picket line; meaning 800 correctional workers were on strike.

While the correctional workers were on strike, RCMP from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba were contracted to work as jail guards.

READ MORE: SGEU rejects contract offer from government

These workers were eventually joined by 500 other SGEU members; meaning 1,300 of the union’s 13,000 members were striking. These other workers came from the justice and environment ministries, Saskatchewan Property Management and highway workers.

After 44 days, the province and union agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement. The deal saw SGEU members receive a 12 per cent pay raise over three years.

The Lorne Calvert government’s finance department pegged the cost of the strike at around $15 million. Unpaid wages totaled around $7 million, bringing the final cost of the strike between $8 and $10 million.

SGEU currently represents roughly 12,000 employees.

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