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Saskatchewan social service workers vote in favour of job action to fight for fair wages and work life balance

Middle aged woman holding a phone, young man eating a piece of pizza, both standing in a kitchenMembers of CUPE 600 have voted by an overwhelming 94 per cent to take job action up to and including a full withdrawal of services.

CUPE 600 represents close to 385 social and central service workers across the province who help deliver frontline care and support to Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable people.

The two main issues at the bargaining table are wages and hours of work.

“Recent changes to how the provincial government provides services for people living with intellectual disabilities is putting more pressure on our members,” said Jacalyn Luterbach, president of CUPE Local 600.  “Workload and caseload are increasing across the board and in every classification, and the current shift schedule in crisis and planned respite homes is unsustainable.”

Currently, employees at these facilities are working six days straight of eight-hour shifts with two or less days off.  These shifts are a combination of day, evening and night shifts with very quick turnarounds.  Often staff are working 2-3 different shifts in a week.  Employees are exhausted with very little time off for home life.

“Members have also reported fatigue, health problems, and mood issues all from the lack of rest away from work.  As a result, we are seeing increased sick time, increased reliance on overtime, and increased mandating by the employer,” said Luterbach.  “Our members are being run ragged.  We deserve a solution before this health and safety issue gets any further out of control.”

CUPE 600 is proposing moving from an eight-hour shift model to a 12-hour shift model, which is the standard throughout the health authority and at the former Valley View Centre.  This proposal would not cost the employer any extra money and could end up saving money in terms of reducing overtime.

“Our members are asking for a fair monetary offer and for a shift schedule that makes sense,” said Luterbach.  “This strike mandate shows that our members are united and willing to fight for a fair deal.”

The local is not yet in a legal strike position and will not be until essential service negotiations are complete.  Negotiations on essential services are expected to start in the near future.


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