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April 28 is a National Day of Mourning to remember those who tragically lost their lives while at work and to recognize those who endured an injury or acquired an illness or disease as a result of their work. Sadly, 48 Saskatchewan people died as a result of their job last year (2018) from occupational disease and traumatic events, not including farm-related fatalities or other workplaces that are not covered or reported by workers’ compensation. The total number of workplace fatalities and total overall injury rate increased from 2017. Over 22,343 workplace injuries occurred in Saskatchewan workplaces last year and were accepted by Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board (including time loss claims and no time loss claims), among the over 28,952 claims reported to WCB.
On the National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace, we remember those we have lost and we renew our resolve as workers and union members to defend and improve workplace safety standards.
Attend a ceremony of observance in your community on Sunday, April 28, 2019. Click “Continue Reading” for event listings.
The two events were organized by CUPE members and activists. Activists handed out information about the labour dispute and talked to attendees about the issues facing the local.
“One of CUPE’s greatest strengths is the solidarity we share beyond provincial and sector boundaries. It means a lot to our members to see activists from across the country standing with us,” said Craig Hannah, president of CUPE Local 1975. “I hope it sends a strong message to the University of Saskatchewan: When you take on CUPE Local 1975, you take on CUPE’s 680,000 members across the country.”
The University of Saskatchewan is pushing a three year wage freeze and wants to dismantle the local’s secure defined benefit pension plan and replace it with either a defined contribution or target benefit plan. CUPE Local 1975 has a strong strike mandate from its members and will be in a legal strike position upon the conclusion of a labour board hearing on essential services.
Registration is now open for the Back to Batoche Canoe Trip 2019. During this annual voyage, participants navigate the waters of the South Saskatchewan River by canoe beginning at Clarkboro Ferry Crossing (formerly Warman Ferry Crossing) and arriving at the historic Métis community of Batoche—learning Aboriginal culture, history and traditions along the way. The CUPE Saskatchewan canoe trip coincides with the Back to Batoche celebrations of the Métis Nation in Saskatchewan which take place on July 18 – 21, 2019.
After the canoe trip, participants are encouraged to attend the Back to Batoche festivities. Spaces are limited! Register today! Please provide your email address with registration.
On April 1st, Saskatchewan now has the dubious distinction of having the lowest minimum wage in the country.
“With a minimum wage of $11.06 an hour, many workers in Saskatchewan are struggling to make ends meet,” says Tom Graham, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “Raising the minimum wage is not just the right thing to do – it makes economic sense. More workers with more money in their pockets means more spending in our local economy.”
In Saskatchewan, 20% of the entire workforce earns less than $15 per hour. Provincially, about 40% of all workers earning minimum wage are between the ages of 15 and 19. However, workers between the ages of 35 and 64 constitute the second-largest cohort of minimum wage earners at 30% of the total.
CUPE’s organizing drive, which started in November, has added educational associates from Rosthern Elementary School and Rosthern High School and the Perdue caretaker to the CUPE Local 4254 bargaining unit.
“We are proud to represent 14 new members from Rosthern and Perdue,” said Grace Wudrick, President of CUPE Local 4254. “These new members will benefit greatly from being part of Canada’s largest union with job security, enhanced benefits, and many other collective agreement rights.”
CUPE Local 8443 has ratified a new collective agreement with Saskatoon Public Schools. Over 450 members cast ballots, and the result was a 67% vote in favour of the proposal.
“We are pleased we were able to reach a deal that saw modest wage increases for our members,” said Scott Barrett, President of CUPE Local 8443. “Our schools work because we do, and this deal recognizes the hard work of our members.”
Access to clean and safe drinking water and wastewater services are essential to human life and health, and clean water supplies sustain our environment and planet. On World Water Day on March 22, CUPE renews its commitment as public sector workers on the frontline to protect and defend water and wastewater (sewage) services from privatization that takes away public ownership and control of water, including from commercial exploitation through trade agreements or bottled water. Sustainable management of our water systems and water supply can only be possible through public ownership and control to ensure that human need and responsible environment stewardship are always a priority.
Yesterday’s provincial budget is balanced in favour of bureaucracy, at the expense of front line care, says CUPE Local 5430.
The merger of 12 health regions into the Saskatchewan Health Authority was predicted to save $20 million annually, with all savings being directed to front line care. But there is little evidence to show that such cost savings were realized.
“Where are all of the savings we were promised from the amalgamation? Where is the support for front line workers who deliver hands on care?” said Sandra Seitz, President of CUPE Local 5430. “This budget shows us that executive salaries have continued to grow, while front line workers are doing more with less.”
CUPE members are facing unprecedented workloads due to understaffing, underfunding and higher patient acuity and resident care needs. This results in more exhaustion, workplace violence and injuries.
“The reality is that patients and residents in the health care system are not seeing the improved care the government is claiming,” said Seitz. “We need a government that invests in providing quality, hands on care for patients and residents – not more investment in health care executives and consultants.”
Today’s budget delivered disappointment and disrespect for working people and public services of Saskatchewan, says CUPE Saskatchewan.
“This budget continues the drastic underfunding of our public services while corporations and high-income earners continue to get off the hook by not paying their fair share,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “And let me be crystal clear: It was not this government that balanced the budget, but the working people of Saskatchewan who have had to pay more and get less.”
“The budget was balanced on the backs of our kids in our schools who are dealing with larger classes and less support. It was balanced by public sector workers who had to give up a wage increase, the municipalities who had to raise property taxes and user fees and the universities who had to raise tuition and cut programming.”
March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s a day to renew our commitment to confront and end discriminatory treatment and intolerance wherever it exists, and it’s a day to recognize the human suffering caused by the injustice and stigma of racism. It’s a day to renew our efforts to make our workplaces and all levels of our union reflective of diversity, and it’s a day to renew our efforts to advocate for fair and equal rights for all members, regardless of race or ethnicity.