If ever it need a rallying cry, Saskatchewan’s biggest union now has one.
The Saskatchewan Government Employee Union (SGEU) will fight what it calls the latest attack on working people as the idea of forced unpaid days off is floated by Saskatchewan’s finance minister.
Kevin Doherty is considering the idea as the province wrestles with a $1.2 billion deficit.
If applied public sector-wide, unpaid days off would save the government $11 million a day.
“Why would we believe him for one moment that the layoffs will stop because we take a day off without pay?” SGEU president Bob Bymoen asked. “I don’t know why he thinks it’s OK to break that contract with the people of this province, but he can’t break a contract with a company in France.”
The government has said everything is on the table when it comes to plugging the deficit, including wage roll backs or job cuts.
Bymoen doesn’t think any of those measures will make a difference if the government doesn’t address what he says is the real problem: overspending.
“In my heart, if I thought myself taking a day off without pay would save this province, I’d gladly take the day off but it’s like giving money to a cocaine addict – it won’t change anything because they haven’t even admitted that they got a problem with how they’re spending money,” he said.
It is a sentiment echoed by NDP MLA Warren McCall who blames government fiscal mismanagement for the deficit.
“This is a government that has built out administration and the top end of bureaucracy in healthcare, in education, while the frontlines have gone wanting,” he said.
The speculation will likely continue until the budget is delivered March 22.