3.5% wage reduction already worked into Sask. budget

1 / 2
3.5% wage reduction already worked into Sask. budget

Government employees are deflated and let down by the province, a union president says.

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union is filing a legal challenge against the provincial government, alleging the government has been acting in bad faith by proposing public sector wage rollbacks. 

​The challenge says the government has undermined pension and union benefits as well as SGEU's ability to bargain on behalf of its members. 

The challenge has been filed with the Labour Relations Board. 

The bad faith allegations stem from the government's move to privatize cleaning services in government buildings — which the SGEU has called "mean-spirited."  

​"If it's not illegal, it's definitely unethical; unheard of in my world," said SGEU president Bob Bymoen, alleging the government is inviting public sector workers to bid and compete with private tenders. 

Bymoen said he hopes the Labour Relations Board will determine the government has taken inappropriate measures in instituting wage rollbacks and that the government revisit the contracts they've issued. 

Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said the government believes it has operated within the laws.

"I don't know what options are available to LRB but we'll just let that process play out," he said. 

Doherty said reaching an agreement at the bargaining table is still something the government is aiming for. 

"There has been a lot of speculation that we're trying to balance the budget on the backs of public servants," Doherty said. Instead, there are multiple avenues the province is exploring to find savings, he said.

Doherty said the 3.5 per cent reduction has been worked into the budget. If the reduction does not come to fruition, Doherty said the involved parties will cross that bridge when the time comes. 

The premier has set a target of cutting $250 million through worker compensation.

The provincial budget drops March 22.