Rally for Saskatchewan March 8 2017, ReginaThe latest government announcement about wage rollbacks for public sector workers will further weaken the economy and punish the working people of this province for a mess the Sask Party created, says CUPE Saskatchewan.

“We are facing a budget deficit today because of this government’s reckless decisions. They have sold off or given away sources of revenue, buried us in expensive P3 and Lean contracts, and now the only solution they have for a situation they created is to punish frontline workers,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

The letter sent to the unions says that the government expects a 3.5 per cent rollback in boards and agencies, school divisions, health regions, the post-secondary education sector, and government ministries. The government has suggested rollbacks could come in the form of unpaid holidays or a direct wage roll back.

“A 3.5 per cent wage decrease is a significant loss of wages for many CUPE members who are already struggling to make ends meet,” added Graham. “We are not talking about high level bureaucrats: many of our members are precarious, part-time, casual, or only work on a seasonal basis. This rollback will have dire consequences for families across Saskatchewan.

“This decision could also have a significant impact on the quality of the public services we depend on, like health care and education,” said Graham.  “We know that frontline staff are already working short, and struggling to do more with less. We have already seen layoffs and reduction of hours in some sectors. How will the government continue to provide high quality public services?”

Over the past five years, wages of public sector workers haven’t kept up with inflation. Base wage increases for public sector collective agreements increased by an average of 7.3 per cent over the past five years, while Saskatchewan’s CPI increased by 8.2 per cent during the same period.  Average hourly wages for public sector workers increased by half the rate of wage increases for private sector workers in the province.

“Balancing the budget through cuts to public services and on the backs of public sector workers isn’t just unfair, it would be bad for the economy. Less money on wages means fewer people spending money,” added Graham. “It is time for the Sask Party government to stop punishing workers for its bad decisions.”