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Wednesday, 22 June 2011 16:32

HSAS still battling for better wages

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Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan continues to picket while asking for binding arbitration to resolve its contract dispute with the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO).



The union, which has been without a contract since March 31, 2009, failed to reach an agreement with the health regions’ bargaining organization when they returned to the bargaining table June 8.

SAHO offered an average wage increase of 11 per cent over four years. Their offer also included significant increases to shift and weekend hourly premiums as well as a $5 per hour increase for the EMS stand-by rates for employees who aren’t working full-time.

HSAS countered by asking for a 14.5 per cent increase over four years, stand-by wages to be 85 per cent of the province’s minimum wage and the ability to challenge workplace staffing.

HSAS, which represents more than 3,000 employees including EMS staff, hospital pharmacists, physical therapists, psychologists and public health inspectors, also complained SAHO’s offer would decrease extra pay for “senior” positions. Those people have extra duties such as scheduling and sometimes hiring and performance appraisals.

SAHO walked away from that offer, leaving HSAS to continue with its rotating strikes throughout the province. The strikes have involved more than one community at the same time, unlike their previous job action.

HSAS continues to request for binding arbitration, which a poll showed most residents in the province support, and attacking the government for having a flawed essential services legislation.

“Saskatchewan people know that this bad law has resulted in deadlocked contract negotiations, and health care strike action that has dragged on like no other period in our history,” said HSAS president Cathy Dickson. “No wonder our recent provincial public opinion  poll found that people feel the essential services law has hurt, not helped, health-care contract negotiations by a margin of almost two to one.”

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