March 9, 2017
Dear CUPE Health Care Member:
CUPE, SEIU, and SGEU met with SAHO on March 7 to discuss bargaining logistics (meeting frequency, locations, venues, etc.), order of proceedings (common table versus individual union tables), and communication protocols. No bargaining proposals were exchanged at this meeting.
Unfortunately, these preliminary discussions were sidelined when the health provider unions were informed by SAHO about two hours into our meeting that Saskatchewan’s Minister of Finance would be sending a letter to the heads of all public sector unions.
Minister Kevin Doherty’s letter stated that Premier Wall would be asking Cabinet Ministers and MLAs to reduce their salaries by 3.5 per cent starting in 2017 to 2018. Staff in the Premier’s office and Ministers’ office would be required to take nine unpaid days off a year.
More importantly, the Minister’s letter said the provincial government is now seeking to reduce compensation costs across the public sector by 3.5 per cent starting in the fiscal year 2017 to 2018. This could take the form of direct wage rollbacks or unpaid days off. Premier Wall expects this 3.5 per cent compensation savings to be achieved through “negotiations” with the unions that represent employees or by employer policy for out-of-scope employees.
CUPE and other health care provider coalition partners were blind-sided by this announcement. But your union will stand firm against concessions and will continue to work towards a fair and reasonable contract on your behalf.
In our last update to members, we reported that SAHO previously delivered an austerity message on behalf of the provincial government that requested health care unions “work collaboratively” to ensure that there will be no increased payroll costs for the fiscal year 2017 to 2018. Now, the provincial government wants a 3.5 per cent rollback in compensation costs.
As a result of this latest announcement by the provincial government, the health provider unions and SAHO were not able to finalize arrangements for the commencement of collective bargaining or set bargaining dates. Our coalition of unions informed SAHO that we need to time to consult with our memberships given the latest threats by the provincial government.
SAHO will be contacting CUPE, SEIU, and SGEU after the provincial budget is unveiled on March 22, 2017. It’s likely the budget could reveal additional measures which will negatively impact CUPE health care members.
It is also anticipated that the provincial budget will include enabling legislation for the replacement of the current health regions with one provincial health authority, which will shed light on how this restructuring will affect our bargaining units and union representation.
As we stated in our last collective bargaining update, your CUPE Health Care Council strongly believes that health care and other public sector workers are not responsible for the fiscal mess the provincial government finds itself in now. Instead of threatening wage rollbacks, unpaid days off, and layoffs, the Wall government should consider other budgetary alternatives, including reducing its own wasteful spending, increasing revenues based on ability to pay, and paying down the deficit over a longer period.
CUPE will continue to stand up for our members, our collective agreement, and the public services we provide against these unprecedented attacks by the provincial government. Yesterday, CUPE health care workers from all over the province travelled to Regina to send a strong message to the government that public sector workers did not cause the deficit and that we shouldn’t be punished for it.
The bargaining committee is asking for your support in providing us with stories of how the government’s proposed 3.5 per cent roll back will impact you. The committee strongly believes rollbacks are not in the best interest of our members. Please contact your local union and let them know what concerns you have with the latest announcements from the Sask Party government.
In addition, please share this update with your co-workers.
CUPE will continue to keep you updated with further developments. Learn more at www.cupesaskhcc.ca.
Your CUPE Health Care Council Bargaining Committee