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“It’s so hypocritical. He’ll go down to St. Paul’s and talk about how much he appreciates us, but then he doesn’t give us the time of day,” Platzke said in reference to a press conference Moe held at St. Paul’s Hospital on Monday morning.

SASKATOON, SK--SEPTEMBER 21/2020 -0922 news sit-in - Members of the SEIU held a sit-in at the Saskatoon Cabinet Office in Saskatoon, SK on Monday, September 21, 2020. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Matt Smith)
Members of SEIU-West held a sit-in at the Saskatoon cabinet office on Monday, September 21, 2020. Photo by Matt Smith /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

SEIU-West represents more than 13,000 people in Saskatchewan, most of them in various parts of the health care system.

In the 2017 budget, the province offered health care and public service unions a five-year collective agreement including pay increases of zero per cent for the first two fiscal years; one per cent for the third year and two per cent for the final two years. Other unions, including CUPE and SGEU, eventually accepted the agreement, but SEIU-West members voted to reject it.

President Barbara Cape said they expect to hear back from the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations, which represents employers, sometime this week. But barring a major breakthrough, she says they will likely declare an impasse and ask the Ministry of Labour Relations for help in reaching a deal.

Earlier this summer, SEIU-West said members are prepared to take job action. Health Minister Jim Reiter, in June, expressed hope that job action could be avoided.

“The possibility of job action during this pandemic is concerning,” Reiter said in a prepared statement at the time. “I would encourage both parties to return to the bargaining table so we can continue providing the high level of care Saskatchewan residents have always received.”

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