Water Security Agency reaches tentative agreement with the province

SaskTel employee Ryan Cleniuk, center, waves to drivers in the hope of a supportive "honk" near a SaskTel building on Saskatchewan Drive in downtown Regina on Friday, October 4, 2019. Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan government says they have come to a tentative agreement with Water Security Agency (WSA) employees.

The province says details of the tentative agreement will not be made public until it has been ratified by the members of Unifor Local 820.

“I am pleased we have reached a tentative agreement with the Unifor bargaining unit,” Water Security Agency president and CEO Susan Ross said.

“We are thankful for the dedicated efforts of the negotiators representing our employees who have been working hard with our management team to come up with this deal.”

READ MORE: Crown workers blockade SaskTel call centre; plan to work Tuesday

This agreement comes just shy of one week from 5,000 Crown sector workers going on strike. Employees of SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, DirectWest, SecurTek, and SaskWater are still without a contract.

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They are asking for a two per cent cost of living raise, what they say is on par with this year’s pay increase for MLAs.

The two sides have both said they want to get back to the bargaining table, but tensions remain high on the picket lines.

A statement from Unifor said the members from the six still striking Crown employers are disappointed to hear about the tentative WSA agreement.

“Our union is built on the principle that the power of Unifor is our members, and they make the final decision on the terms of their contracts,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in the statement.

According to the union, the tentative WSA agreement includes a wage freeze in the first two years of the five-year contract. This has been a major sticking point since talks began.

Unifor is recommending that the 140 Unifor Local 820 members that work for the WSA reject what they call an “inferior deal.” The union added they will respect the result of the ratification vote, and even if it is ratified this will not affect the ongoing job action at six other Crowns.

“Crown workers across the province are united against Scott Moe’s wage freeze mandate,” said Penny Matheson, Unifor Local 2-S president, representing SaskTel workers in areas north of Davidson.

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The WSA oversees Saskatchewan’s core water management responsibilities. It owns and operates 72 dams across the province.

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