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REGINA - The provincial governments most available hours regulations should apply to all workplaces in the province, including public sector workplaces and third party agencies funded partially or entirely by government, the Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees said today.

The government as employer and funder should set the highest standards when it comes to improving and protecting part-time workers rights and working conditions, said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

Graham said that many public sector workers could stand to benefit from the most available hours legislation, including food services workers in the university sector and library workers, who often work shifts at different branches. However, he said the proposed draft regulations, which would only apply to workplaces with 50 or more employees per worksite, would exclude many public sector workplaces, particularly group homes and day cares.

CUPE Saskatchewan is also urging the provincial government to expand the definition of what constitutes additional hours to short-term absences. Short-term illnesses or absences from the workplace of less than two weeks are not included in the definition, even though these types of absences may generate the greatest proportion of additional hours, said Graham.

If it is broad in scope, most available hours legislation will have a significant impact on part-time workers struggling to make ends meet, said Graham, who noted that thirty percent of part-timers hold multiple jobs. The legislation will help them access full-time hours and earn a better wage.

Graham dismissed the campaign by the business lobby and official opposition to kill the legislation as one of rhetorical malarkey, misinformation and fear mongering.

Most available hours legislation will not bring about an economic catastrophe, nor will it place an onerous burden on employers who already have to maintain employee lists, he said.

Employers are already offering additional hours to their employees when they become available. This legislation will establish a system of fairness, in which senior, qualified part-timers who want additional hours will be offered the hours, eliminating any favouritism or discrimination as a factor in those decisions.

Graham will meet with Minister of Labour Deb Higgins today as part of the provincial governments consultation process.

CUPE represents over 25,000 public sector workers in Saskatchewan who work at health care facilities, municipalities, school boards, universities, libraries and community-based organizations. About 29 percent of these members work part-time.

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For more information contact: Tom Graham 306 229-8171