Saskatchewan’s largest union is hoping that the upcoming provincial budget will include funding for public services that have been the hardest hit by COVID-19.
“The City of Saskatoon and City of Regina are facing revenue losses of $32 million and $21 million, respectively, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “We are calling for this budget to provide emergency operational funding for municipalities so Saskatchewan residents can continue to rely on municipal services.”
CUPE, SEIU-West, and SGEU – three Saskatchewan unions representing health providers – are calling on the provincial government to provide a wage top-up for all health care workers, who are working hard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. An online petition, expressing support for a wage top-up has been set up to send a message to Premier Scott Moe and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
Take Action! Add your name to the online petition: www.skhealthproviders.ca
Prairie South School Division has announced plans to start the 2020-21 school year off with a reduction in custodial services at six Moose Jaw schools and two other school board facilities.
“A pandemic is the wrong time to be cutting these services in our schools,” said Jackie Christianson, chair of the CUPE Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “Our collective experience is showing us how important sanitation and cleanliness is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Prairie South is cutting corners on our schools hygiene which will leave students, staff and the community at risk.”
The total reduction equals 2.53 full time staff and is equivalent to 20.3 daily hours of custodial services.
“Our members will have significantly fewer hours and people power but will have the same area to clean with more stringent guidelines in place,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “We need to ensure proper staffing levels to keep students safe.”
May is Asian Heritage Month, dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the diversity of our communities and within our union of our sisters, brothers and friends whose origins are connected to the many vibrant cultures of East Asia, Southern Asia, Central Asia, Western and Southeast Asia. It is also a time to recommit as fellow union members to the important role of speaking up against racism in our workplaces, online and our home communities.
Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), is launching a national campaign to fix Canada’s broken long-term care system, by making it a part of our public universal health care system.
Public sector workers are the backbone of our communities. CUPE Saskatchewan wants to shed a light on the hard work our members are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As schools around the province are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CUPE education support workers are finding new and creative ways to meet the needs of students and communities.
In the Chinook School Division, bus drivers who are members of CUPE Local 4754 are being redeployed for a new purpose.
Omar Murray, president of CUPE Local 4754 and a member of the Education Workers’ Steering Committee, has been a bus driver in the Maple Creek area for over 30 years. Murray hasn’t experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic before.
Murray still drives his usual route, and an additional route in town. But instead of picking up students, Murray and other drivers are dropping off special packages for students to continue educational enrichment during the pandemic. However, instead of a daily run, the packages are sent out on a bi-weekly basis.
Judy Henley, president, CUPE Saskatchewan
Responding to Deputy Minister Donna Johnson’s comments today, Saskatchewan’s largest union is strongly disputing the claim that workers will no longer have the right to refuse dangerous work or that COVID-19 will not be regarded as an unusually dangerous hazard by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.
“Saskatchewan workers musn’t be exploited by the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan and the dubious claims by a deputy minister that somehow COVID-19 is no longer an unusually dangerous hazard,” responded Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “We have been in the middle of an unprecedented public health emergency caused by this highly infectious disease, and the deputy minister is misleading us all to now consider working conditions safe. The deputy minister should be cautious of the danger of misleading workers about their rights to workplace health and safety,” said Henley.
Saskatchewan’s largest health care union, CUPE Local 5430, is concerned that the government’s cohorting policy is disproportionally hurting almost 6,000 CUPE relief workers.
Introduced on April 28, cohorting in long-term care means that workers can only work in one facility, which is helping make facilities safer, but could also have a devastating impact on the health care workers who depend on shifts at multiple facilities to help make ends meet. Relief workers have no guaranteed hours and must often work at multiple facilities to cobble together enough work to make a living and support their families. Part-time workers usually also hold a relief position to make up full-time hours.
“Relief workers are providing critical support during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sandra Seitz, president of CUPE Local 5430. “But they haven’t been spared the burden of job insecurity. The government has to act right now so that our front-line heroes in health care aren’t being left behind.”
The Community-Based Organization (CBO) sector carries out critical work for vulnerable community members all across Saskatchewan. At the same time, the sector is poorly funded, workers are underpaid, and their work is undervalued.
Over 30 CUPE locals across Saskatchewan are involved in the CBO sector. Cindy Lasko represents one of them. She works at Prairie Branches Enterprises, which offers a variety of supports through group homes, day programs, supportive employment, and supportive independent living. She is also the president of CUPE Local 3583, which represents around 80 group home workers in Unity, Wilkie and Kerrobert.
The unions representing health care providers in Saskatchewan are calling for the Premier to follow in the footsteps of almost every other jurisdiction in Canada and provide a wage top-up for health care workers.
Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta have all taken steps to enhance the wages for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. CUPE Local 5430, SEIU-West and SGEU Health Providers have written a letter to Premier Scott Moe, asking the provincial government to take steps to lift up the wages for health care workers.
Last week, the Scott Moe government announced a wage top-up for front line workers, but health care workers were noticeably absent from the list of eligible employees.