REGINA - Three unions representing 25,000 health workers say the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) must return to the common bargaining table tomorrow prepared to address ‘equity issues’ in order to achieve contract settlements and avert possible job action.
The three unions – the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Service Employees International Union and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union – represent health care providers across the province employed as special care aides, medical technologists and technicians, licensed practical nurses, clerical, dietary, activity and laundry aides, housekeepers, maintenance staff and other classifications.
Contract talks between the unions and SAHO adjourned on December 17 after no agreement was reached on several outstanding monetary issues including premium pay, vacation benefits and the extended health benefits plan. The three unions are insisting their members receive the same treatment as other unionized health workers.
“SAHO and the health regions talk about the important role our members play on the health care team,” says Gordon Campbell, President of the CUPE Health Care Council, which represents about 12,000 health care providers in Regina Qu’Appelle, Prince Albert Parkland, Sunrise, Sun Country and Prairie North health regions. “But in many contract areas such as premium pay for working shifts and weekends, our members are treated as second-class. That has to change. We need equitable treatment for all health care workers.”
SAHO and health care employers promised to meet over the holidays and return to the bargaining table on January 4 with an improved contract offer.
“Our members are pretty frustrated by the lack of progress in contract talks,” says Barb Cape of the Service Employees International Union. “Although we have three bargaining days scheduled this week with SAHO, we are prepared to negotiate through the weekend if that’s what it takes to achieve tentative agreements.”
SEIU represents about 11,000 health care providers in Saskatoon, Heartland, Five Hills, and Cypress health regions.
Audrey Yaremy of SGEU says she hopes SAHO’s New Year’s resolution is to achieve tentative agreements this week “because I know that’s what all of the health workers in my union are hoping for!”
SGEU represents about 2,000 health workers in Kelsey Trail, Keewatin Yatthé and Mamawetan Churchill River health regions.
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