After conservative Premier Brad Wall openly mused about accepting offers for Saskatchewan’s public telecommunication company, SaskTel, Unifor locals have sprung into action to fight any attempts to privatize Crown corporations.
Unifor is the largest union in Saskatchewan’s Crown corporation sector, representing thousands of workers at SaskTel, SaskWater, SaskPower, and SaskEnergy.
“Brad Wall is deeply mistaken if he thinks he has a mandate to privatize any portion of our Crown corporations,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor’s Western Director, referring to an explicit promise from Wall during the spring 2016 provincial election that Crown corporations would not be privatized.
Unifor says Wall is deliberately undermining SaskTel’s efficiency to foment dissatisfaction with the widely respected Crown corporation. On November 7, the company began shrinking the regional workforce in Moose Jaw.
“Brad Wall’s campaign against SaskTel is making families suffer,” said Warnock.
In response to the fierce backlash to full-scale privatization, the Wall government introduced Bill 40 on October 29. The Bill changes the definition of privatize in the Crown Corporation Public Ownership Act. If Bill 40 passes in 2017, up to 49 per cent of a Crown corporation can be sold off before triggering a public referendum on its privatization.
The incremental sale of Manitoba Telephone Service (MTS) was how conservatives privatized the Crown corporation in the 1990s.
Earlier in the fall, Unifor ran radio ads exposing the folly of privatization in Regina, Saskatoon, and the other areas where cabinet ministers hold seats. The ads are still available to be shared online at Soundcloud.com/unifor
Print ads accompanied the launch of the radio spots and Unifor members leafleted Labour Day events and engaged with community members about the value of SaskTel and the other Crowns.
“Brad Wall isn’t fooling anyone. He’s preparing the groundwork to break an election promise and we’re going to stop him in his tracks,” said Warnock.
Unifor Locals in Saskatchewan are planning mobilizations for the winter, including when the legislature resumes in January. In the meantime, Unifor members across the country can send a letter to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall at Unifor.org/backoffbrad