“Our members have real concerns about their safety and health — and the safety of their clients — as a result of poor management decisions around staff scheduling." — SGEU President Bob Bymoen
Regina (04 Feb. 2016) — On February 1, members of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE) employed by the Regina Mobile Crisis Services have given their negotiating committee a strike mandate.
Worker and client safety at the heart of negotiations
The collective agreement covering 38 workers expired March 31, 2015. Negotiations stalled over the issue of working alone in high-risk situations and putting the safety of clients and workers at risk.
“Our members have real concerns about their safety and health — and the safety of their clients — as a result of poor management decisions around staff scheduling,” said SGEU President Bob Bymoen.
Crisis workers at Regina Mobile Crisis Services provide emergency care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for individuals and families in need of crisis intervention services. They respond to domestic violence calls, engage in suicide intervention, ensure children’s safety in the midst of a violent family crisis, and more.
Inadequate staffing levels harming quality of service
Since the spring of 2013, Regina Mobile Crisis Services has scheduled only one daytime worker per shift on weekdays, resulting in only one crisis worker available during a 7.5 hour period. As a result of working alone, crisis workers are experiencing mental exhaustion, ethical dilemmas, safety concerns, dropped calls and delays in providing services — putting client safety at risk.
“Front-line crisis workers deal with high-risk situations and need to have backup staff,” said Bymoen. “Two workers should be scheduled at all times to allow our members to assist one another in emergency situations and protect people who are vulnerable.”
Strike mandate intended to force employer to address growing problems
Despite a 22 per cent increase in calls since 2012–2013, there has also been a recent
cut to weekend and statutory holiday coverage, further compromising crisis workers’ ability to provide services when they are needed.
“Management hasn’t been willing to address their workers’ concerns,” said Bymoen. “I hope they’re willing to now and will come to the table ready to bargain a collective agreement.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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