Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Union Lockout of Union Ends


Local 481 of the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union had, until recently, been without a contract for 2 1/2 years. Their employer? The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union. Even though the CEP had negotiated substantial taxpayer-funded wage hikes for SGEU in times past, SGEU's offer was two percent over three years.

Finally, SGEU locked the CEP out on November 6, 2007. SGEU even set up temporary offices elsewhere to try to avoid picketing on their doorstep. This failed. For a time, SGEU even refused to allow third-party mediation. The CEP, in turn, made a motion to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour to declare SGEU "hot cargo" and be kicked out.

After SGEU finally did allow third-party mediation it reached a deal with the CEP's bargaining committee. Yet, the CEP workers refused to ratify the agreement reached by their own people. After more tinkering, the two sides finally settled their differing issues: sick leave and wage hikes for the 58 CEP workers.

"I think they're ready to go back and we're hopeful we can begin the healing process," said CEP 481 Local President Kelly Diebel. Healing from the ordeal of negotiating with a public sector union, an odessey recorded at www.sgeustaffstrike.ca

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