Prince Albert (May 16, 2011) – The Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan has announced there will be no additional strike action by Health Sciences members today, giving Premier Wall a “window of opportunity” to avoid additional strike action, by agreeing to send the union’s lengthy contract dispute with health care employers to independent, binding arbitration.
“Striking Health Sciences members in Swift Current have returned to their duties, and we have decided not to launch additional strike action today. It is time for the Wall government to finally agree that independent, binding arbitration is the best option to conclude a new contract without further disruptions to health care services. If there is no movement from the government, additional job action is likely as early as tomorrow,” Health Sciences President Cathy Dickson said.
“Unless health care employers, represented by SAHO, come to the bargaining table with a new offer and the ability to negotiate its terms, strike action is our only option to try to end more than two years of stonewalling by these employers and the provincial government,” Dickson said.
“In other provinces when a union’s right to strike has been limited by essential services legislation there is always an independent resolution process, like third-party binding arbitration, but not in Saskatchewan,” Dickson explained.
“The Premier cannot have it both ways. If he believes the government and SAHO have presented our specialized health care professionals with a fair and reasonable contract offer, what does he have to fear from an independent, third party reviewing the positions of both health care employers and the union, and then setting the terms of a new contract?” Dickson asked.
“As we have said throughout this contract dispute, the chronic under-staffing of our professions by health care employers is risking the safety of many Saskatchewan patients, and forcing many others to wait unacceptable lengths of time to access needed health care services. That’s why we are standing firm for improved staffing and for the competitive wages and benefits that will help to recruit and retain our specialized health care professionals,” Dickson added.
“If the government wants to avoid more strike action it either has to change its public sector mandate or agree to send this dispute to independent, binding arbitration. This window of opportunity will soon close if the government fails to act,” Dickson concluded.
Health Sciences represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals from more than thirty health care professions. The union’s members include: Emergency care workers like Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics; Acute care workers like Hospital Pharmacists, Perfusionists, and Respiratory Therapists; Rehabilitation professionals like Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists; and Community-based professionals like Public Health Inspectors, Psychologists and Social Workers.
For Further Information Contact:
Cathy Dickson, President, Health Sciences