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Service disruption intensifies as SaskTel workers locked out

October 7, 2019 - 3:00 AM

REGINA—After announcing a return to work earlier today, SaskTel workers have now been locked out by the employer, triggering a cancellation of the planned return to work at other Crown corporations.

“Just when we thought Scott Moe couldn’t make things worse, he proved us wrong, from Asia no less,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The provincial government engineered a strike by Crown workers by imposing a wage freeze, now it stands idly by while SaskTel workers are prevented from returning to work.”

On October 4 at 12:01 a.m. nearly 5,000 workers at SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, SaskWater, DirectWest, SecurTek, and the Water Security Agency began legal job action after being offered a two-year wage freeze by the Scott Moe government.“Whomever made the decision to lock-out SaskTel workers hasn’t seen the energy I’ve seen on our picket lines,” said Dave Kuntz, Unifor Local 1-S President representing SaskTel workers in areas south of Davidson.

Penny Matheson, President of Unifor Local 2-S based in Saskatoon said: “Our members are ready to do whatever it takes to force the Scott Moe government to negotiate a fair contract.”

Lock-out notice has not been served to the other striking Unifor members, leading Crown workers to conclude the government wants to divide and conquer union members.

“We’re going to stay on the picket line in solidarity with SaskTel and to ensure that our own membership is not divided by the employer,” said Ian Davidson, Unifor Local 649 President representing workers at SaskEnergy and SaskPower, referring to communication he received earlier today suggesting that part-time workers would not be allowed back.

“Crown workers and our families are united as ever in the campaign for a fair contract, and that doesn’t change today because the government has dropped the ball again,” Davidson added.

Some Crown bargaining committees have been at the table with the employer for two years or longer, offering to accept lump-sum payments (aka signing bonuses) in lieu of a base wage increase in the first year of the contract. Committees have also made offers to accept wage increases in subsequent years that are below that of the 2.3 per cent increase MLAs gave themselves.