Public Values

SK public servants settle, ON college teachers narrowly accept contract

Agreement comes after five months without contract for SGEU members.

Sask union happy, Ontario claims a mishandled voteAfter being without a contract for over five months, a tentative agreement has been reached between the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) public service bargaining unit after talks broke down early this year.

"I'd like to thank the bargaining committee for their hard work in achieving this tentative settlement," SGEU public service negotiating committee chair Barry Nowoselsky said. "We will now be sending this to the membership for their consideration."

Meanwhile, 25,000 members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Saskatchewan are still without a contract after two years and are nowhere close to settling.

In Ontario, in a vote Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), says was "mishandled", an offer from the Colleges was narrowly accepted for a three-year collective agreement.

"There was no advance poll, causing the high number of mail–in ballots," Thomas said. "Many voted after already knowing the original results, and some members never received ballots at all. This is in addition to the employer's tactic of hiring nearly 800 partial–load faculty after the January strike vote. We have filed formal complaints."

Fear–mongering by the colleges was also an issue according to Ted Montgomery, chair of the OPSEU bargaining team for the faculty.

"We did not want a labour disruption, and had a plan to avoid one, but the employer took the stance with our members that it was either accept the offer or be forced out on strike," Montgomery said. "This vote is not an endorsement of the imposed terms and conditions or the employer's last offer. Fear of a strike, according to most reports, was a key factor."

Montgomery is disappointed that the key recommendations of the Workload Task Force will not be addressed. "Issues around workload, among others, will only become more contentious as problems worsen."

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) represents about 10,000 employees in government ministries who work in a wide range of roles, from agrologists to social and corrections workers and highway maintenance crews.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has approximately 115,000 full- and part-time members, nearly 500 locals, and 35 Regional Offices and Membership Centres across Ontario, making it the third largest union in the province.

Links and sources
  Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) tentative agreement
  Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Posted: March 02, 2010

  Health care
  Public services
  Front lines
  Voices of privatization

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