A wide range of workers under the provincial government could hit the picket lines in a matter of weeks.
The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) said it’s now seeking a strike mandate from its members, conducting the voting process in July.
The SGEU’s Public Service/Government Employment unit represents workers in a wide variety of positions including lab technicians, wildfire fighters, agrologists, and corrections officers.
In a statement sent out to media, the negotiating committee’s chair, Barry Nowoselsky, said the government is scapegoating workers and has wasted money on “high-priced out-of-province consultants” and “costly” projects like the Regina Bypass and the Global Transportation Hub.
“It’s time for this government to show they value the work performed by our neighbours, family and friends who live and work right here in Saskatchewan,” said Nowoselsky.
Regarding negotiations, Nowoselsky said the government hasn’t been willing to agree to “reasonable” improvements to the workers’ contracts.
Negotiations have been ongoing since October 2016. A tentative agreement was reached in February of this year, but workers rejected it in a vote.
If workers say yes to a strike mandate in July that doesn’t mean a strike will follow immediately, but the union will be able to use it as a bargaining chip
“We are prepared to return to the bargaining table at any time,” said Nowoselsky, “but without a strike mandate, I doubt we can make any meaningful progress.”