October 23, 2019
As the fourth session of the 28th Legislature opens today, SGEU is calling on the Sask Party government to make changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act, which is currently denying SGEU’s Public Service/Government Employment (PS/GE) bargaining unit the right to strike.
Section 6-63(1)(b) of The Saskatchewan Employment Act stipulates that it is an unfair labour practice to take job action while an application is before the Labour Relations Board. Currently, several applications involving SGEU are before the Board, many of which are beyond SGEU’s control. Some are successorship applications to protect our members being transferred out of the PS/GE bargaining unit, while others are applications brought against SGEU.
While SGEU has launched a legal challenge of section 6-63, it could take many more months to be resolved.
“No other province in the country has this provision in its labour laws,” says SGEU President Bob Bymoen. “Government continues to tie our hands when it comes to bargaining effectively for our members. We can’t even use the possibility of a strike mandate as a negotiating tool so long as this provision is in place. It is a restrictive and completely unnecessary provision, on top of the already extremely onerous process of negotiating an Essential Services Agreement. It needs to be removed.”
Bymoen also calls on the Sask Party government to commit to providing multi-year funding to Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) during this session of the Legislature.
“CBOs care for some of the most vulnerable people in our province,” says Bymoen. “They help at-risk children, people with intellectual and physical disabilities, and women fleeing violent relationships – and yet they are expected to plan ahead without knowing how the next provincial budget will affect them.”
Multi-year funding agreements would allow CBOs to ensure stable programming and adequate staffing levels are available to meet clients’ needs, adds Bymoen.
Earlier this year, without notice or consultation, the Sask Party government eliminated funding for one CBO, Cornwall Alternative School – only to reverse the cut after students, teachers, and parents highlighted the school's vital impact on young people.
For over 45 years, Cornwall Alternative School has provided at-risk and disadvantaged youth with holistic and traditional learning programs to help them stay in school. Despite the school’s success, the Minister of Education told the media that restoring funding to Cornwall Alternative would “buy us some time” while the ministry reviews the future of the school.
“The students, families, and staff of Cornwall Alternative deserve better,” says Bymoen. “Current and future students need a commitment from this government that they’ll be able to access the support they need to succeed – both in school and in life. I urge this government to provide long-term funding to Cornwall Alternative, and all CBOs, during this session of the Legislature.”
“It’s time for this government to prioritize the needs of working people and families in upcoming legislation and the next provincial budget,” Bymoen added.
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