The Crown sector strike is one week old, and approximately 1,000 Crown sector employees rallied in Regina’s Victoria Park on Friday.
“2.3, if it’s good enough for Moe, it’s good enough for me,” chanted the striking workers.
Regina area Unifor members were joined by three busloads of Crown employees from Saskatoon for the rally.
This is in reference to the province’s proposed zero per cent wage increases in the first two years of the five-year contract. Subsequent years include a one per cent raise, followed by two per cent raises in the final year.
For SecurTek and DirectWest, the offer is one per cent, two per cent and two per cent. This includes no wage increase for 2017 and 2018, two years the companies have been without an agreement.
“The feeback that we’re getting around the province is that the mood is excellent and people are frustrated with the government to get back to the table,” said Chris Macdonald, assistant to Unifor’s president
Striking Crown corporations include SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, SaskWater, DirectWest and SecurTek. The Water Security Agency (WSA) was originally on the picket line, but that union reached a tentative agreement on Thursday.
Macdonald said that they are disappointed to see the WSA take a two-year wage freeze. However, he added that this does not weaken their strike, as the WSA only included 140 members.
“We wish they wouldn’t have taken the wage freeze and we talked to them about it, but frankly it’s a small group that doesn’t affect the strength of our strike,” Macdonald said.
About 5,000 employees in total are on strike.
DirectWest was also at the bargaining table, but no agreement has come from those talks.
The other Crown corporations have yet to return to the bargaining table since the strike began.
The province said that invitations have been sent to the rest of the Crown corporations to return to the table. A government spokesperson said Unifor has not agreed to return at this point.
“They’re not prepared to amend the wage freeze and that’s where we’re stuck right now,” Macdonald said.
The rallying workers also paraded through Regina’s downtown, stopping at SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SaskTel headquarters on Friday morning.
A few Crown employees have raised concern about the “stunts” Unifor has done during the picket. This includes blockading SaskTel and SaskEnergy call centres earlier this week.
Macdonald said the concerned workers represent a small group.
“We went around and tried to talk to them yesterday about why we need to be doing the types of tactics that we’re doing,” he said.
“If this doesn’t become frustrating for the government and doesn’t become frustrating for the Crowns we’re never going to get anywhere. We’re not going to get back to the table if we sit and wait for them.”