Flawed legislation preventing meaningful conclusion to talks
As 120 professional health workers from the Health Science Association of Saskatchewan (HSAS) continued their ongoing job action in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region today, NDP Labour critic Andy Iwanchuk urged the Wall government to send the stalled talks to independent, binding arbitration.
Iwanchuk said essential services legislation, as designed and implemented by the Wall government, is preventing the two sides from reaching a deal and contributing to the protracted negotiations now playing out between the government and professional front-line healthcare workers.
“With the essential services legislation currently in place, the government is content to simply wear the workers down by limiting their ability to take meaningful job action which is what most often spurs contract talks into resuming,” Iwanchuk said. “As it stands, without sending these negotiations to binding arbitration, the government feels it can stay firm on its current offer – an offer the unions have already publicly rejected.”
Iwanchuk also noted that the Wall government has been contradictory in its position on binding arbitration with Health Minister Don McMorris stating last week that there was “room for discussion” on appointing a binding arbitrator – giving hope to the health professionals who want to return to their jobs – while Brad Wall confirmed yesterday that the government had no intention of doing so.
“The government’s continued refusal to send the talks to arbitration is beginning to sound like an implicit acknowledgement that it’s offer to healthcare workers – and other public sector employees forced to settle with inadequate offers because of its flawed labour legislation – is truly lower than what they should expect,” Iwanchuk said. “The Wall government simply doesn’t want its draconian methods and unfair offers to be exposed by an independent third-party.”
“By offering wage increases of less than the rising cost of living, HSAS members are only the latest group of working professionals the Wall government has disrespected,” Iwanchuk said. “If the government is so confident in its offer and feels that it truly represents the valuable work that these healthcare workers perform on a daily basis, it will send these negotiations to independent, binding arbitration to resolve this dispute.”