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The largest union in the province is calling for an independent review of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission following its reckless decision to terminate six front-line staff and severely restrict services at the two offices.

It’s a dark time for human rights in the province,” CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham told over 200 delegates today at the union’s annual convention in Saskatoon. “If you are harassed at work due to race, or fired because you are pregnant, you will have a tough time getting assistance from the commission. We need an independent review to shine a light on what is going on there,” he said.

Commission managers terminated six employees without cause on January 25 and escorted them out the back door. The workers, all members of CUPE, were not allowed to return to their desks or say good-bye to co-workers.

It’s a disgraceful way for any employer to treat its staff, but it is reprehensible when that employer is the human rights commission,” said Graham. “This is the agency that has a legislative responsibility to protect and promote human rights – not trample them.”

CUPE 1871 spokesperson Bill Rafoss, who worked for the commission for 29 years before his job was terminated, told delegates that as a result of the staff cuts there is no longer any support staff in the Regina office to answer the phone or book appointments.

CUPE National President Paul Moist described the commission treatment of staff as disgraceful and questioned why there are now seven managers at the human rights commission and only ten in-scope staff.

Delegates, through a standing vote to show their solidarity, unanimously passed an emergency resolution that condemned the commission’s actions and called on the government to establish an independent review.