Union protesters hold sit-in at government cabinet office in Saskatoon



About a half-dozen SEIU-West members spent most of Monday gathered in the Saskatoon office on 22nd Street, demanding to speak with a high-level government official. Members working in long-term care, medical laboratories and other parts of the healthcare system have been without a collective agreement since 2017.

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After several rallies this summer in front of local hospitals and care facilities, members of SEIU-West held a sit-in at the Saskatchewan cabinet office in downtown Saskatoon.

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About a half-dozen SEIU-West members spent much of Monday gathered at the Saskatoon office on 22nd Street, demanding to speak to a high-level government official. Members working in long-term care, medical laboratories and other parts of the healthcare system have been without a collective agreement since 2017.

The sit-in lasted about six hours. Union members said police pulled them out of office after their sit-in passed closing hours. A spokeswoman for the Saskatoon Police Department confirmed that police had been called and attended the scene, but could not confirm any other details.

SEIU West Treasurer Jance Platzke said they wanted to hold Premier Scott Moe’s feet directly against the fire. She says Moe, coincidentally, was in the building when the protest began, but did not speak to union members.

“It’s so hypocritical. He’ll go to St. Paul’s and talk about how much he appreciates us, but then he doesn’t give us the time of day, ”Platzke said in reference to a press conference Moe held at St. Paul’s Hospital. Monday morning. .

SEIU-West members held a sit-in at the Saskatoon cabinet office on Monday, September 21, 2020.
SEIU-West members held a sit-in at the Saskatoon cabinet office on Monday, September 21, 2020. Photo by Matt Smith /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

SEIU-West represents over 13,000 people in Saskatchewan, most of them in various parts of the health care system.

In Budget 2017, the province offered health and public service unions a five-year collective agreement that included zero percent wage increases for the first two fiscal years; one percent for the third year and two percent for the last two years. Other unions, including CUPE and SGEU, eventually accepted the deal, but SEIU West members voted to reject it.

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President Barbara Cape said she expects a response from the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations, which represents employers, this week. But barring a major breakthrough, she says they’ll likely declare a stalemate and ask the Labor Relations Department for help in reaching a deal.

Earlier this summer, SEIU-West said members were ready to act. Health Minister Jim Reiter, in June, expressed hope that the labor action could be avoided.

“The possibility of action at work during this pandemic is concerning,” Reiter said in a statement prepared at the time. “I encourage both parties to return to the negotiating table so that we can continue to provide the high level of care that the residents of Saskatchewan have always received.

  1. SEIU-West members hold signs and wave to cars outside St. Paul's Hospital on August 12, 2020.

    Saskatoon Healthcare Workers’ Union Protests

  2. SEIU West President Barbara Cape (Saskatoon StarPhoenix / Liam Richards)

    Social workers threaten to act at work if conditions do not improve


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