Crown negotiations break off, job action to begin Monday morning

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Jerry Dias speaks to a crowd holding Unifor flags and umbrellas.

REGINA—Employers have called off contract talks after they steadfastly refused to move off of a government-imposed wage freeze.

“Work-to-rule” job action is scheduled to begin Monday at 12:01 a.m., with escalation planned for the end of the week.

“Picket lines are our last resort, but we’ve said from the start that wage freezes were simply not fair,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Considering the Premier gave himself a 2.3% raise this year, Crown workers’ demands are more than reasonable.”

Nearly 5,000 Unifor members from SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, SecurTek, DirectWest, SaskWater, and the Water Security Agency will begin the united job action across Saskatchewan on Monday. The job action will look different in every workplace, but workers will perform the minimum standard required to do their job safely. In most cases that involves refusing overtime and ignoring performance targets set by the employer.

If an agreement cannot be reached before Friday, October 4 at 12:01 a.m., Unifor members from all seven bargaining units will commence a strike.

Unifor says that negotiations have been especially frustrating because the rationale for applying the government mandate to the Crowns sector is deeply flawed.

“The government insists that wage freezes are necessary for the provincial operating budget—but that’s not how Crown workers’ wages are funded,” said Dias. “Crowns are self-funded entities, and the government should stop pretending otherwise.”

Dias added “Scott Moe’s salary, on the other hand, does come from the provincial budget.”