The biggest public sector union in Saskatchewan will fight any wage rollbacks.
The Wall administration has asked all employee groups to hold wages to 2016-17 levels.
“The government signed these contracts in good faith, we signed these contracts in good faith, they are nominal increases,” argued Bob Bymoen, president of the Saskatchewan Government Employee Union (SGEU).
Salaries and benefits represent $7.1 billion a year of the overall expenses of the provincial government, including worker’s compensation paybacks.
Bymoen argued if the province tries to back out of signed contracts, they may face a legal challenge similar to the essential services lawsuit it eventually lost.
“Just to be told the government was wrong, it was illegal and they had to fix it,” Bymoen said. “I hope the government doesn’t go down that road again.”
In 2004, the Lorne Calvert NDP government enacted a 0-1-1 over three years wage mandate. Bymoen argued, however, that is different.
“The Calvert administration was busy addressing these other economic factors that were really dragging the economy down,” he said.
In the last fiscal year, the government lost just under $1 billion in non-renewable resource revenues, largely due to falling potash and oil prices.
A $1-billion deficit is forecast for this year.
By the numbers
- 64,000: The number of people who work in the public sector in the province of Saskatchewan.
- $7.1 billion: The amount salaries and benefits totalled in the 2016-17 budget.
- 41: The number of contracts that exist in the province.
- 26: The number that have already been negotiated and are mid-contract.
- 15: The number of open contracts still to be negotiated.