Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan (HSAS) President Karen Wasylenko announced this morning that their union membership has voted 85.5 per cent in favour of job action.
“Health care employers have only themselves to blame for this situation. They presented a shameful contract proposal last month, which received strong negative reaction from the specialized health care professionals we represent. Our members voted in favour of job action in a mail-in ballot completed earlier this week,” Wasylenko said.
“The threat of job action is always a last resort for our health care professionals. Even with this strike vote, we are still hopeful the health regions will respond, and present a revised contract offer during the next two days of bargaining here in Saskatoon. The ball is now in their court,” Wasylenko added.
The Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan represents 3,000 members in a wide range of health care professions, including: Addictions Counsellors, Audiologists, Dietitians, Emergency Services, Infection Control Practitioners, Nutritionists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Psychologists, Public Health Inspectors, Social Workers, plus Speech and Language Pathologists.
“The last contract offer from the health regions, represented by the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), would have continued to hide health care staffing and service levels from the public, would have stripped health care professionals of existing rights agreed to in previous contracts, and would have provided wage increases below the level already approved for other health care staff in recent negotiated settlements,” Wasylenko noted.
“Even during two days of recent negotiations involving a provincial government Mediator, the health regions refused to move off that contract offer,” she added.
“Most troubling of all, the health regions continue to reject our request for increased public disclosure of health care staffing levels, wait times and service levels. We have been pushing for increased public disclosure for years now, but health care employers seem determined to keep this important information hidden from the public,” Wasylenko said.
Following the provincial government’s adoption of new labour legislation through the Saskatchewan Employment Act, members of Health Sciences cannot take job action at this time, in spite of the strike vote.
"Under the new law, if collective bargaining fails to find a resolution, there are a number of new steps, which must be completed, before job action can be launched legally,” Wasylenko noted.
“To date, health care employers seem determined to under-value and disrespect the important work being done for patients by our specialized health care professionals. We can only hope that this strike vote will finally force them to come to the table with a good faith offer,” Wasylenko concluded.