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REGINA - More than 25,000 health workers will be preparing for job action if the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) doesn’t produce a reasonable offer.

The three unions – the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Service Employees International Union and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union – represent workers in the health care providers group across the province which includes special care aides, medical technicians, laboratory technologists, licensed practical nurses, clerical, laundry and maintenance staff, dietary aides and housekeepers.

All three unions recently reached tentative agreements with SAHO on the non-monetary items, after more than 15 months of contract negotiations.
On Monday, December 12, they moved to a common bargaining table with the employer to deal with the monetary items. But talks have yielded little movement as SAHO has failed to address the unions’ key concerns involving parity with other union members in the health sector, job security and workload.

“It’s been a week of disappointment and frustration,” says CUPE spokesperson Gordon Campbell, whose union represents about 12,000 health care providers in Regina Qu’Appelle, Prince Albert Parkland, Sunrise, Sun Country and Prairie North health regions. “The government promised we would have collective agreements in place by Christmas, but it seems SAHO has other plans.”

The unions are seeking parity with other health care unions on monetary issues including shift premiums, weekend premiums, standby rates, transportation allowance, vacation and professional fee reimbursement. But SAHO continues to insist that health care providers should settle for less.

It’s insulting and a slap in the face to our members,” says SEIU spokesperson Barb Cape, whose union represents about 10,000 members in Saskatoon, Heartland, Five Hills, and Cypress health regions. “It’s certainly not the type of treatment that is going to produce a settlement.”

Audrey Yaremy of SGEU says she hopes the employer returns to the bargaining table with a fair contract settlement before Christmas so everyone can enjoy the holidays. SGEU represents about 2000 health care providers in Kelsey Trail, Keewatin Yatthé and Mamawetan Churchill River health regions.

All three unions will participate in a media scrum in Saskatoon’s Sheraton Cavalier (West Room) on Friday, December 16, at 10:30 a.m.

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For more information contact, Gordon Campbell at 539-0661, Barb Cape, 631-4713 and Audrey Yaremy 921-6033.