Striking Saskatchewan crop insurance employees return to bargaining table

Saskatchewan Premier criticizes union for job action during flood crisis
||Last Updated: 06/23/2011

The union representing workers at Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) returned to the bargaining table late last night to try to reach a deal with the government. Workers remain on strike after being taken off the job on Tuesday by their union.

The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU), which represents the 470 government employees, says job action is necessary to reach a “fair and equitable” collective agreement.

“We are being offered 1.5, 1.75 and 1.75 per cent, for a total of five per cent over three years,” SGEU negotiating committee chair Alan Evans said in a news release. “This is unacceptable. We provide prompt and efficient delivery of insurance requirements for farmers and are worthy of a reasonable pay increase.”

"The expenses we receive for using our own vehicles to conduct the business of the corporation do not cover the true costs,” Evans said. “We use our vehicles to complete farm visits and receive less than what it costs us to operate them.”

The SCIC issued a release stating that they believe the offer is competitive and reflective of other public sector settlements. Their release also indicated that the SGEU formally withdrew their initial wage demand of 7.75 per cent over three years and that the union had no current monetary demand on the table.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said that the strike was “nothing short of appalling” during a time of unprecedented flooding in the province, yesterday.

“Call off this strike — at least until all claims for unseeded and flooded out acres are processed,” Wall said in a letter to SGEU President Bob Bymoen. “During that time, the management of Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation will continue to bargain in good faith and work to reach a negotiated contract settlement.”

The premier warned that the government would take action if the union doesn't end the strike within 24 hours, but did not elaborate on what action the government might take.

The SGEU has yet to respond.

Striking SCIC employees work on agriculture stability and production insurance programs. Their collective agreement the government expired in September 2009.

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