Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations hit by strike; essential services maintained

REGINA — Upwards of 5,000 workers walked off their jobs Friday at six Crown corporations and one Crown agency in Saskatchewan over stalled contract talks a union leader said could be settled if it weren’t for Premier Scott Moe.

Picket lines went up at multiple SaskTel, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, SaskWater, DirectWest, SecurTek and Water Security Agency locations.

Negotiators for the province and the workers represented by Unifor failed to reach a tentative deal by Thursday midnight. A work-to-rule campaign had already begun Monday.

Some unionized members remained available to respond to emergencies under essential service agreements with the Crowns covering such areas as SaskPower’s outage centre and SaskTel’s 911 service.

Unifor is seeking wage increases of two per cent in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and has said the key issue is the government’s demand for wage freezes.

Jerry Dias, the union’s national president, said the union is also asking for a lump-sum payment of four per cent over two years.

He couldn’t say how long job action might last.

“We’re dealing with Scott Moe, a premier who is not acting very rationally in the least,” Dias said in an interview.

“The employers and us can clearly get a deal immediately, but it’s being held up by the premier.”

The union’s last proposal was eight days ago, said Dias, who added that there had been no response.

“Everything we have asked for is tied into the rate of inflation and they’re still saying no.”

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the premier “forced this strike to happen.”

“In a time when this government has been drawing hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Crowns in recent years, using them as their personal piggy bank to plug the holes in their budgets, it’s really embarrassing that they are offering zeros and unable to take care of the workers who do so much,” Meili said.

The premier’s office said Moe would not be commenting Friday on the strike. Moe has said his government does not believe a general strike would be in the best interests of the Crown corporations or their workers.

Unifor posted on social media to say hundreds of members would be gathering outside Evraz Place in Regina where the Saskatchewan Party’s convention was starting.

Blair Swystun, president of Crown Investments Corp., said the companies would not be commenting on bargaining.

“That will not be done publicly, but rather at each bargaining table,” Swystun said. “Each of the seven tables impacted by this strike have contingency plans ready and have put those plans into motion.”

Mike Marsh, president and CEO of SaskPower, said its Unifor members had left their positions in its call centre.

“We have redeployed management staff to the call centre to handle calls,” he said. “We do expect there will be some delays in perhaps getting response.”

SaskTel said on its website that all stores would be closed during the labour disruption. Customers could get access to some services on the company’s website, but it wasn’t able to transfer services or activate new home accounts.

SaskTel said customers could still pay bills online, by mail or at a bank.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who was making a campaign stop in Saskatchewan for the Oct. 21 election, stopped to visit a picket line in Saskatoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2019.

— By Daniela Germano in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

Sasktachewan Crown corporation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake beachgoers spark safety concerns

‘You’re putting your life at risk,’ tweets Rachel Notley

Conservatives call for Trudeau to testify at committee on WE Charity deal

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is already investigating whether Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act

Beat the heat this summer with pop-up spray parks

Starting next week, spray parks will be popping up in neighbourhoods across… Continue reading

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Quebec police continue search for father, one day after missing girls found dead

Bodies were found in a wooded area of Quebec City suburb

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Canmore RCMP respond to multiple hiking injury calls this weekend

EMS and RCMP responded to three separate and unrelated hiking accidents in Kananaskis Country.

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Masks and gloves: Elections Saskatchewan preparing for pandemic election

REGINA — Elections Saskatchewan estimates it will need 400,000 face masks and… Continue reading

Quebec police say they found 2 bodies in St-Apollinaire during search for 2 girls

SAINT-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father… Continue reading

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA chief Don Fehr reflect on RTP, CBA deals

Gary Bettman and Don Fehr finally have a chance to catch their… Continue reading

NHL’s road to Edmonton and Toronto featured plenty of obstacles

Since early March, the novel coronavirus has affected almost every decision facing… Continue reading

Florida sets record week for coronavirus deaths

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s coronavirus death rate rose again Saturday, setting… Continue reading

Trump’s defiant help for Stone adds to tumult in Washington

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to… Continue reading

Most Read