College negotiators in Saskatchewan want anti-labour government to pick arbitrator on long-running dispute.
Regina (22 Nov. 2010) - The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE) says it would be unfair to employees if a government-appointed mediator is brought into its long-running contract dispute with negotiators for the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST).
SGEU has issued a strike notice after going without a contract for 16 months and SIAST administration has countered with a lockout notice.
"We have no reason to believe that an individual appointed by this government will act in an impartial manner," says Jim Steele, chair of the SGEU bargaining committee.
The 1,300 academic and 700 professional services employees at SIAST campuses across the province are currently in a legal strike position. SGEU has requested an out-of-province mediator.
"It is a conflict of interest for the government to intervene in these negotiations by appointing a mediator," Steele said.
"The government is an interested party in these negotiations since it both funds and oversees the province's post-secondary institutions. Government is affected by the outcome of bargaining. It has no right to imposed a hand-picked mediator in this case."
SIAST has asked the government to appoint its own mediator rather than someone from out of province.
SGEU president Bob Bymoen said the Saskatchewan Party government of Premier Brad Wall has been anti-labour from the beginning of its time in power.
"The government has virtually stripped public sector workers of their right to strike and even made it more difficult for workers to join unions," he notes.
"It fired the members of the Labour Relations Board (LRB) and replaced them with a chair who shares the Saskatchewan Party's political views. With this track record how can we be expected to believe that the government will appoint a mediator who will be fair and unbiased in this situation?" Bymoen asks.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE