CUPE rallies at University of Saskatchewan over pensions

CUPE made their opinion on protecting pensions known during a rally at the University of Saskatchewan. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

Hundreds of CUPE members rallied at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) on Tuesday to stand in solidarity with CUPE Local 1975.

CUPE is holding their national bargaining conference in Saskatoon this week and members came to rally at the university.

READ MORE: U of S union calls for meeting over pension dispute as possible strike looms

The U of S board of governors were holding a meeting while the activists made their opinion known on protecting pensions.

“We’ve opened up discussions around the pension. We’re willing to look at tweaks and fixes, we’ve done a whole bunch of different things,” CUPE national president Mark Hancock said.

“We’re willing to do a lot of things. What we have to do here is protect the pensions so that when people retire they retire with dignity and retire with an income they can live on.”

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In a statement to Global News, the University of Saskatchewan said it has been working for the past 10 years to try to find an affordable solution to the current pension plan.

The university said CUPE’s proposal did not provide the certainty the university needs over the long term.

READ MORE: Contract talks break down between University of Saskatchewan, CUPE

Hancock said CUPE Local 1975 has the support of all 680,000 Canadian members in their continuing negotiations.

A wide range of non-academic support workers including security personnel, tradespeople and library assistants are among the 1,900 U of S workers who have been without a contract since the end of 2015.

Members voted in favour of a strike mandate in September, but job action isn’t possible because the sides have matters before the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board.

The earliest a strike could happen would likely be April, according to the union.

-With files from Ryan Kessler

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