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SASKATCHEWAN: CUPE health care workers across Saskatchewan will decide on May 25 if theyre prepared to take job action to support their priority issues at the bargaining table.

The CUPE Health Care Council, which bargains on behalf of about 14,000 health care workers in 18 health districts and one northern hospital, organized the strike vote after contract talks with the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations broke down last week.

When we commenced this Work and Family Bargaining Round in February, we stressed the urgent need for action on the key issues of workload, pension and benefits, hours of work, and personal/family leave, says Steve Foley, President of the CUPE Health Care Council. Four months later, there has been little progress at the table on these issues.

The CUPE health care members who are mostly women - work in acute care, long term care and community/home care in health districts around the province. They are employed in a variety of positions including special care and dietary aides, porters, licensed practical nurses, lab technicians, housekeeping, laundry and maintenance.

The crushing workloads in health care are taking an enormous toll on our members, says Mr. Foley. In many health facilities, they are routinely working sick, injured and exhausted. It cant continue.

Mr. Foley says health care workers also need improvements in pensions and benefits, as the workforce is aging. The issue of parity with other health care workers also must be addressed, he adds.

The CUPE President says it is disappointing that his membership may have to take strike action to secure what many other workers take for granted a manageable workload, decent pension benefits, and standard hours of work.

But he says CUPE health care workers feel so strongly about these issues, they may be prepared to walk if SAHO doesnt deal with these issues at the table.

The CUPE health care workers agreement expired on March 31. The strike vote ballots will be counted by the end of May.

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For further information please contact:
Stephen Foley, President Health Care Council at: 525-5874, Ext. 227