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Plans in place to ensure services continue in case of SaskTel strike: gov’t

The Saskatchewan government says plans are in place in the event of that Unifor takes job action at the end of the month.
The Saskatchewan government says plans are in place in the event of that Unifor takes job action at the end of the month. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan government says new offers have been tabled amid possible job action at the end of the month by Crown employees represented by Unifor.

Unionized workers at SaskTel, DirectWest, SecurTek, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, Saskatchewan Water Corporation and the Water Security Agency have received new contact offers, according to a statement from Finance Minister Donna Harpauer.

READ MORE: SaskTel workers set to strike on Sept. 30

“Unifor has indicated they will take job action if agreements cannot be reached by Sept. 30,” Harpauer said on Sept. 26.

“While job action is part of the bargaining process, and is the right of unions, our government feels a strike is not in the best interest of the Crowns, Crown employees, and Crown shareholders — the people of Saskatchewan.”

Harpauer added that in the event Unifor takes job action, agreements and plans are in place at all Crowns to ensure vital services continue.

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“We have confidence in the collective bargaining process, and believe that it is the best way to achieve agreements that are fair and equitable for all parties,” she said.

“We know the Crowns and their employees understand the fiscal environment in Saskatchewan.”

READ MORE: SaskTel union says no pay raise until 2021 is not a fair package

Details of the new offers were not disclosed by the government.

Unifor said time is running out for the government to make a fair offer for the nearly 5,000 Crown workers with strike mandates.

“It’s not a hard formula: show Crown workers the respect they deserve and we can avert province-wide job action,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a press release.

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“Without a serious offer, Scott Moe will engineer service disruption that could have been avoided.”

READ MORE: SaskTel union votes in favour of potential strike action

Unifor’s bargaining committees were expected to meet on Thursday with the employers to review the latest offer and decide whether or not to serve 48-hour job action notice.

SaskTel employees have already served notice and job action is set to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 30 if a collective agreement is not reached.

Unifor criticized MLAs for taking a 2.3 per cent pay increase earlier this year.

“If 2.3 per cent is good enough for Scott Moe, surely it’s good enough for the thousands of Crown workers that make public utilities and services great,” Unifor’s western regional director, Gavin McGarrigle, said in a statement.

“Job action at seven Crowns is not inevitable. The government and Crown corporations have the ability to bargain a fair agreement, but time is running out.”