Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan

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Government and SAHO Running Out of Excuses

Saskatoon (June 10, 2011) – The Wall government and SAHO are running out of excuses to try to avoid sending the ongoing contract dispute with Saskatchewan’s specialized health care professionals to independent, interest-based, binding arbitration, Health Sciences President Cathy Dickson said.

“For weeks, both the government and SAHO have claimed they didn’t want to send our contract dispute to binding arbitration, because the best contracts are always those that are negotiated by the parties at the bargaining table. However, SAHO blew that excuse this week, when it refused to negotiate the terms of its latest contract offer, refused to even discuss a counter proposal from Health Sciences, and then walked away from the bargaining table,” Dickson said from a picket line set up outside Royal University Hospital by striking professionals in Saskatoon.

“In fact, the President of SAHO exposed the employers’ real attitude toward collective bargaining with health care professionals, when she told reporters yesterday that “there is no value” to bargaining at this point! Why are these people playing political games with Saskatchewan’s health care services? They say they want to negotiate, but whenever they get to the bargaining table they refuse to negotiate. Enough is enough,” Dickson said.

“What’s the Wall government’s justification now for running and hiding from binding arbitration?” Dickson asked.

“Our recent provincial public opinion poll found 67% support for sending our contract dispute to binding arbitration. The public sees this as a reasonable alternative to bring a fair conclusion to a contract dispute, which has now dragged on for more than two years,” Dickson added.

“Independent, interest-based, binding arbitration could settle the concerns of both health care professionals and patients with chronic under-staffing that has increased waiting lists for many health care services, and pushed the limits of patient safety for others. An independent arbitrator would have the power to make the future staffing decisions of health care employers public, transparent and accountable. An independent arbitrator could also determine how best to make wages and benefits more competitive, so that Saskatchewan can improve its recruitment and retention of specialized health care professionals in the future,” Dickson added.

“Health Sciences has said that it will immediately suspend all strike action if the Wall government and SAHO would agree to independent, interest-based, binding arbitration. Every day we are on strike is a day of strike action that could be avoided by the government and health care employers simply agreeing to get on with the job,” Dickson concluded.

For Further Information Contact:

Cathy Dickson (President, Health Sciences)
1-306-361-5655

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