SGEU asking for appointment of mediator in stalled contract talks

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) faces a challenging impasse in negotiations with the Government of Saskatchewan, impacting the largest bargaining unit, Public Service/Government Employment (PS/GE).

The current collective bargaining agreement expired on September 30, 2022, and after over a year of talks, SGEU expresses disappointment at the government’s reluctance to negotiate fair enhancements.

PS/GE represents more than 11,000 members, including firefighters, correctional officers, child protection workers, and conservation officers, spread across government ministries and agencies in the province. Key priorities for the union include catch-up wage increases linked to the cost of living, improved mental health sick leave, enhanced salary provisions for employees working essential services during a pandemic, and a modest pension increase.

In a media release, Lori Bossaer, Chair of SGEU’s PS/GE Negotiating Committee, highlighted the challenges faced by frontline workers, including dealing with a pandemic, mental health and addictions crises, cost-of-living issues, and an unprecedented wildfire season. The union asserts that members deserve a collective agreement acknowledging and supporting their essential work.

SGEU seeks a contract addressing member retention and recruitment, crucial for sustaining high-quality public services. Burnout, long shifts, skipped breaks, and increased workloads have led to high turnover, making it unsustainable for members. In adherence to the Saskatchewan Employment Act, SGEU has formally requested a mediator’s appointment to aid in reaching a satisfactory collective bargaining agreement.

As per the Act, negotiations must also involve determining essential services to be maintained during a work stoppage. Notably, SGEU initiated a charter challenge against the SEA’s essential services provisions last year, and the matter is currently before the courts.

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