Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 CUPE Convention in Saskatoon

By Edwin Dewaal
29 February 2012

Paul Moist
The National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Paul Moist says it's going to be a busy bargaining year for their members.

"I think we have 154 collective agreements in Saskatchewan, 108 of them are open, or they are coming open some time in 2012, including about half the membership in Saskatchewan. Our goal in every round of bargaining in Saskatchewan is to get a collective agreement."

Moist was attending CUPE Saskatchewan's 47th annual convention being held in Saskatoon over the next couple of days. He says health care is the biggest public policy issue in Saskatchewan and recent polls suggest to them that people in Saskatchewan want more public health care services, not private ones.

President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Larry Hubich was at the conference, and says he is willing to sit down with the government to develop a new Essential Services Act, but he won't do it on bended knee.

"When one party or the other is at a distinct disadvantage, then you don't develop good public policy, and you don't achieve good, sound agreements. It's important for us to defend our rights, but it's also important for us to engage on a level playing field, as equals with the government."

The Essential Services Act was deemed unconstitutional by the courts about 3 weeks ago, and the province has been given a year to draft new legislation. If the legislation is not drafted by then, there won't be an Essential Services Act. Hubich says not having an Essential Services Act wouldn't be a problem, pointing to Nova Scotia who doesn't have essential services legislation.

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