Workers’ rights held up by Essential Services Tribunal

Workers’ rights held up by Essential Services Tribunal

Two women at a CUPE 1975 rally, one holds a sign that says United for Fair PensionsThe University of Saskatchewan has lost their battle to take the right to strike away from hundreds of workers on campus. That was the result of a ruling released today by the Essential Service Tribunal between CUPE Local 1975 and the University of Saskatchewan. 

 “This ruling is more proof that the university needs to stop talking out of both sides of their mouths,” said Craig Hannah, President of CUPE Local 1975 which represents over 2,000 support workers at the university. “At the tribunal they argued that hundreds of people should lose their Charter rights because their work is ‘essential.’ Meanwhile, at the bargaining table, they’re showing how little they really value these workers and the important contribution they make to the campus and everyone here.” 

 This tribunal was the first time the Sask. Party’s newest essential services legislation was fully tested. The university had asked for over 250 positions to be declared essential. Instead, the ruling included just over 40. 

 “Obviously the work of everyone on campus is important,” said Hannah. “We’ve always agreed with keeping genuinely ‘essential’ workers to maintain safety and security on campus. But the fact is, the university’s position was unreasonable. We’re glad the tribunal agreed.”

 The workers have been without a contract since 2015. The key points of contention have been related to wages and an attempt by the administration to scrap the workers’ existing pension plan. This week, the administration agreed to a request by the union to come back to the bargaining table. Until now – while waiting for a ruling from the tribunal – neither side was able to undertake job action.

 “Instead of playing games and inflating numbers, the university needs to treat the workers on this campus with respect, show them that respect at the bargaining table, and offer the workers who keep this campus working a fair deal,” said Hannah.

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