REGINA, SK. The unions representing 1,600 striking civic workers hand-delivered a letter to city manager Bob Linner today, requesting the employer agree to refer the dispute to binding arbitration and end the 23-day strike. In the letter, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Amalgamated Transit Union propose the Minister of Labour appoint the chairperson for the arbitration board.
An arbitration decision released yesterday awarded pay increases of 13.5 per cent over three years to Regina firefighters. Striking civic workers are seeking wage increases that reflect the cost-of-living – about seven per cent over three years.
The full-scale strike began on August 31, after CUPE and ATU members massively rejected the city’s so-called final offer of five per cent over three years. The city has been insisting civic workers accept a zero in 2004, even though the mayor and council received increases of 2.8 per cent for that year. Regina firefighters will receive pay increases of 4.5 per cent annually retroactive to 2004.
The city’s hypocrisy and steadfast refusal to improve its wage offer has angered Regina residents – most of whom blame the mayor and council for the protracted dispute.
Earlier this week, the civic unions requested the assistance of a provincial conciliator to help break the impasse and end the strike, but the city refused.
“We continue to be both amazed and appalled by the lack of leadership shown by our elected officials,” says CUPE staff representative Malcolm Matheson. “If they reject binding arbitration, I expect it won’t be much longer before we hear them saying, ‘Let them eat cake.’”