Members of the Public Service/Government Collective Unit, which includes social workers, forest fire chasers, highway workers, laboratory technicians, agrologists, corrective agents and others, have been without a collective agreement since September 30, 2016. Many members of the collective agreement unit work less than full-time and are employed part-time, casual, seasonal or part-time. Both sides have been at the negotiating table since the previous agreement expired in October 2016. Members of the GSM bargaining committee will now work with the province to conclude the new collective agreement. It expires on September 30, 2022. “The bargaining committee felt that the government was not taking the government as seriously as it should, so we now hope, with a strike mandate, that the parties will be able to meet, settle their differences and enter into a collective agreement.” More than three years after the previous agreement expired, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Government of Saskatchewan and the General Union of Workers (SGEU) have ratified a Memorandum of Understanding. While the union has a strike mandate, more work would have to be done before workers could strike. One is to return to the negotiating table, but Bymoen said the unions and the government must also reach a key service agreement before workers are able to strike. “We respect the fact that this is part of collective bargaining. Our next steps include negotiating an essential service agreement. We continue to hope for a negotiated solution. Negotiations have been ongoing since the expiry of the collective agreement in 2016. Bymoen declined to comment on some of the issues that separated the two parties. The agreement covers approximately 11,000 SGEU members who work as transport and equipment officers, prison officers, park officers, conservation officers, social workers and many other public sectors.
The new agreement provides for wage increases of zero per cent, zero per cent, one per cent, two per cent (combination of pension and general wage increase), two per cent and two per cent over a six-year period. It will run from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2022. “We are pleased that a majority of the members voted in favour of this interim agreement,” said Lori Bossaer, Chair of the GSP Negotiating Committee. “Our goal is always to negotiate a successful agreement,” he said. “A strike is one of the last options in our toolbox when it comes to negotiating.” “I welcome the commitment and cooperation between the two parties to work on a new collective agreement,” said Ken Cheveldayoff, Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. The union said that representatives of the bargaining committee and the government were now working to “sign and sign definitively” the collective agreement. The contract expires on September 30, 2022. The province and the Saskatchewan General Employees Union (SGEU) have agreed on a new collective agreement that provides for a seven per cent increase over six months.
“There is also a language in the parts of the contract that govern the relationship. We hope that they will allow us to find our way around. “We hope that this will bring the parties together and that they can draw a collective agreement from it,” Bymoen said. “Our priority was to reach an agreement that was good for public service staff and the people we serve – the citizens of Saskatchewan.” . The SGEU held ratification votes across the province between October 7 and November 6. According to the union, nearly 70 per cent of the members voted in favour of ratification. “Our members now have a considerable period of time without a significant increase in money, so there are still problems there,” Bymoen said.