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REGINA: Why would a health region send intimidating letters to CUPE health care workers during a strike vote?

That’s the question the CUPE Health Care Council wants Sun Country Health Region to answer, after the employer sent individual letters to CUPE health workers yesterday, telling them they “have been named by the employer as an essential services worker” and are “required to work” during any work stoppage.

The health region’s letter warns employees: “A failure to continue or resume your employment duties with the employer during a work stoppage, without lawful excuse, is an offence under the Act.”

The CUPE Health Care Council’s bargaining committee is incensed by the employer’s actions, saying they “reek of bad faith.” The Council, which bargains on behalf of 12,600 health care providers, is organizing a strike vote in Sun Country and four other health regions in the province. The ballots will not be counted until the evening of June 8.

The employer needs to explain its actions because it certainly looks as if Sun Country is trying to intimidate our members and scuttle the strike vote,” says Gordon Campbell, President of the CUPE Health Care Council.

Even if members vote to support a strike, Campbell says, the union would not be in a legal strike position until several outstanding issues before the labour relations board are resolved – a process that could take weeks or months. “Sun Country is well aware of this,” Campbell says.

CUPE staff rep Mike Keith says he is appalled the health region is throwing the essential services legislation at members before there is even a strike mandate. “It is increasingly clear that this legislation is not about public safety. It’s about attacking our collective bargaining rights including the right to hold a strike vote,” Keith says.

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Contact: Mike Keith at 306-525-5874 or Gordon Campbell at 306-539-0661