Bad faith by the Brad Wall government is apparent at the bargaining table and in the passage of unfair 'essential services' legislation.
Regina (15 Sept. 2009) - The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE) is calling for solidarity by its members to prepare for a tough round of bargaining in the ongoing fight against excesses written by the Brad Wall government into its "essential services" legislation.
SGEU president Bob Bymoen says in an update to members that the Wall administration has failed to demonstrate good faith in dealing with SGEU members.
"For unions to be able to negotiate improvements to members' wages and working conditions, both parties must act in good faith. In fact, that’s the law," Bymoen says.
"So why have our members in the health regions been waiting seventeen months for a wage offer? Why has the government of Saskatchewan passed regulations that override the essential services agreement they negotiated with our public service members?" he asks.
"Because they are an employer who can legislate the rules of the game in their favour. They can decide that their team get twelve downs instead of three."
Bymoen says all governments are tempted to stack the rules in their favour when dealing with employees and the manner in which they exercise power reveals their true character.
Saskatchewan Party fails Saskatchewan
By this measure, Wall's Saskatchewan Party government has failed the test, Bymoen says.
"It’s just not how they manage the economy, potash income drop or not. It’s also about the underlying values that guide their decisions," he notes.
"By passing 'essential services' legislation (something unions always provided), amending the Trade Union Act to favour employers (they get 12 downs now), Brad Wall has shown his government’s true character. The rights we have as workers have been won through many hard fought battles. They should not be so casually removed because your business friends don’t like how the game is being played."
Bymoen says SGEU is now challenging the essential services laws in the courts and through the government-appointed Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (SLRB).
"But legal action is always a bit of a coin toss," he acknowledges.
"I think its time to look at drawing upon the strength of our members, our stewards and our bargaining committees to challenge these laws. Action speaks louder than words," he adds.
"Let’s educate ourselves and others about our rights, the legislation and why it is important to defend our rights. Let’s organize in our workplace and bargaining unit while reaching out to others who share our concerns. Let’s build up our team for bargaining and campaigning to get rid of this legislation and any party that supports it."
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