September 16, 2020
For immediate release
SGEU members employed at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency have reached an impasse at the bargaining table and have asked the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety to appoint a provincial Labour Relations Officer to assist the parties in reaching a satisfactory agreement.
“Although we have made progress in our negotiations, it’s frustrating and disappointing that the government isn’t willing to budge on the final two issues on the table, especially when those items come at no extra cost,” said Trent Edwards, co-chair of the SGEU bargaining committee. “We’re looking for fairness and equity for our members when it comes to supplemental employment benefits and pension contributions, and are asking the employer to simply reallocate funds to meet our request.”
The first outstanding issue involves supplemental employment benefits. The current collective agreement provides payment of 75 per cent of the employee’s regular weekly rate of pay for the waiting period for those receiving Maternity/Parental/Adoption benefits under the federal Employment Insurance Act. The federal government recently reduced the waiting period to one week, therefore the employer is only required to cover the top-up for one week. As a result, SGEU is requesting that this one week of savings be reallocated toward an additional week of top-up for those accessing Maternity/Parental/Adoption leave.
The second outstanding issue involves a request to have the employer move a percentage of their contribution from the current benefit plans and reallocate it toward the pension plan. Currently, the contribution rate is more than what is required to fund the benefits paid to members. On the other hand, the pension contribution is at the low end compared to pensions earned by similar unionized health care providers. A reallocation of these resources would come at no additional cost to the employer.
“Our members are proud of the work they do in providing vital services to the people of Saskatchewan,” Edwards added. “Instead of dealing with the uncertainly created by ongoing negotiations, we want to focus on our work and the care and support we provide to our patients and their families. Surely the government agrees we deserve equity with other health care providers and will work quickly to ensure we have a contract that recognizes the important work we do.”
Approximately 700 SGEU members at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency have been without a contract since April 2018, with this round of negotiations beginning in March 2019. The negotiating committee is seeking a six year deal for its members.
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