An estimated 1,500 unionized workers currently on strike at seven Saskatchewan Crown corporations rallied and marched with their supporters through downtown Regina on Friday.
Unifor, which represents the strikers, hosted the rally to show "strength and solidarity," assistant to the Unifor president, Scott Doherty said.
Members met in Victoria Park, including a number brought in by bus in from Saskatoon.
About 5,000 Unifor members from SaskTel, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, SaskWater, the Water Security agency and two SaskTel subsidiaries have been off the job since Oct. 4.
The union, which is pushing for an annual increase of two per cent to keep up with inflation, said "the provincial government is demanding a two-year wage freeze from Crown workers."
In a statement issued yesterday, the Saskatchewan government's executive council said their offer — two years with no increase, followed by a one per cent increase for one year and two per cent increases in each of the following two years — is "not a wage freeze as Unifor leaders have portrayed."
Eight contracts in the public sector have been settled recently that include no wage increases in the first two years, the government's statement said.
After the march, MacDonald said the union's members are "motivated."
"And today was a good day for us to send a strong message to this government," he said. "They better get back to the table because things are only gonna escalate from here."
MacDonald did not offer an example of what he meant by the union possibly escalating tactics to put pressure on the government, but he did say "we're going to be peaceful."
"Ultimately, we've got to get a deal for these members. We're not going to leave them out on the street forever," MacDonald said. "If what we've done so far doesn't get people's attention then we're gonna have to find ways to do that."
Workers will be taking the long weekend off from the picket lines, MacDonald said, before resuming on Tuesday if there has been no movement in negotiations.
Unifor suggests members reject 'inferior' deal
Unifor said they will be recommending their members reject the tentative deal reached with the Water Security Agency.
Unifor Local 820, which represents about 140 workers at the agency, reached a tentative deal on Thursday but in a statement Unifor called the deal "inferior."
Even if workers at the agency ratify the tentative agreement, it will have little impact on the strike and lockouts at the other six Crown corporations, Unifor said in a statement.
Details of the new contract won't be released unless it's ratified.