Public Values

Binding arbitration needed in SK cancer care since major court ruling

Contract delay affecting cancer patient care.

Bymoen:Government would rather Cancer Agency workers go on strike than resolve issues by third partyFebruary 9, 2012: In light of the Queen's Bench court ruling on the illegality of the Public Services Essential Services Act (PSES) earlier this week, SGEU is calling on government to act in the spirit of the decision and take action now to help resolve a simmering dispute at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

"Justice Dennis Ball was very clear that one of the deficiencies of the current law is that it does not provide 'an independent, efficient, overall dispute mechanism' to conclude a collective agreement [at paragraph 205]," said SGEU President Bob Bymoen.

Saskatchewan Cancer Agency workers, SGEU Local 3024, have been asking for such an independent dispute mechanism. They have proposed binding arbitration, whereby an independent, neutral third party settles issues that the union and management have been unable to resolve through the bargaining process.

  "Members are asking for a fair process to settle issues at the bargaining table — one that ensures the safety and well-being of cancer patients."

"Because Cancer Agency workers don't want to put patient care at risk, they have offered not to strike, now or in the future, in exchange for binding arbitration," says Bymoen. "But government has said no. It seems that they would rather Cancer Agency workers went on strike than have issues resolved by an objective third party."

Saskatchewan Cancer Agency workers have been without a contract since December 2009, and the uncertainty this brings to the workplace is making it difficult to recruit and retain experienced health care professionals, such as nurses and mammography technicians.

"The lack of an independent dispute mechanism has frustrated the bargaining process, preventing the signing of a new contract, which is having an increasingly harmful effect on patient care," Bymoen notes.

"Our members are asking for a fair process to settle issues at the bargaining table — one that ensures the safety and well-being of cancer patients. We call on government to do the right thing following Justice Ball's decision. If the government is sincere in its intention to repair the damage it has done, it should start by listening to the workers who provide care to cancer patients and their families," Bymoen adds.

Links and sources
  Court decision should lead to government action on Cancer Agency workers calling for binding arbitration

Posted: February 15, 2012

  Health care
  Public services
  Front lines

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