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Recent correspondence from Health Minister Don McMorris and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) indicate the government is hijacking efforts by the three health care provider unions to negotiate fair collective agreements for our members.

CUPE, SEIUWest and SGEU have been working to achieve new agreements for their 25,000 members for more than two years, but SAHO is refusing to negotiate.

SAHO informed the three provider unions in a letter dated June 10 (see below) that it would only meet to “discuss” its amended final offer – an offer which falls far short of a reasonable settlement. “This isn’t bargaining,” said Gordon Campbell, President of the CUPE Health Care Council. “SAHO refuses to negotiate and that’s likely because Health Minister McMorris and the government are calling the shots.”

Although Health Minister McMorris frequently claims that he and his government have no involvement in contract negotiations or knowledge about where bargaining is at, his recent correspondence to CUPE health providers tells a different story.

In the letter, written in response to letters and postcards sent by health workers to the Premier (see below), Minister McMorris summarizes the employers’ four-year offer and explains their position on retroactive pay.

Here we have a minister bargaining directly with our members about an issue he claims to know nothing about,” said Campbell. “It would be helpful if Minister McMorris clarified who we should we be bargaining with: SAHO or the government?”

The tri-union coalition maintains SAHO is just a puppet in these negotiations - the government is pulling the strings.

We’d like to suggest the Minister show some integrity and negotiate directly with the unions that represent health providers, instead of working behind the scenes to hijack the process.”

Campbell says the union coalition’s most recent offer of settlement, tabled last month, would be a good place to start because it’s “affordable, equitable and most importantly acceptable to members.”

Sinda Cathcart, President of CUPE 3967, which represents 6,000 health care providers in Regina Qu’Appelle, said members are angry with the employers’ tactics.

Many of our members – such as our licensed practical nurses, technologists and special care aides – work alongside RNs and others who receive much better wages, much better shift differentials, much better mileage rates, much better benefits and much better coverage for professional fees. And what is SAHO’s response? They are insisting we accept their insulting offer that entrenches this second class treatment. I can tell you truthfully that is not going to happen,” she said.

In a letter sent to SAHO yesterday (see below), CUPE and the other two health provider unions told the health employers they were available to negotiate anytime, anyplace through the summer to conclude a fair agreement.

We asked SAHO for a response regarding their availability for these discussions. And if they’re not prepared to meet, we’ll be seeking a bargaining date with the Health Minister,” said Campbell.

For more information contact:

Gordon Campbell
CUPE Health Care Council President
Tel: (306) 539-0661

Sinda Cathcart
President of CUPE Local 3967
Tel: (306) 533-2291