Members of Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) bargaining unit have rejected a Memorandum of Agreement deal with the province.
The deal on the table for members offered wage increases of 0, 0, 1 and 2 per cent over four years.
The last contract expired at the end of September 2016, meaning the first two years without increases would have been partially retroactive.
Year 3 — kicking in this year if ratified — came with a one-per-cent offer and involves a mid-year adjustment; meaning the first half of the year would have see a 0.5-per-cent increase, with another 0.5-per-cent increase coming into effect for the latter half of the contract year.
But according to a Wednesday press release from the union, that was rejected.
“SGEU has been in contact with the employer and is in the process of setting up dates to return to the bargaining table,” read the press release. “SGEU remains committed to achieving a fair contract for the employees of the Saskatchewan public service.”
Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said the rejection was “disappointing.”
“That is part of the process and members can reject a contract proposal, so now it goes back to the collective bargaining process as it should.”
The province has at least publicly abandoned its failing effort to see a 3.5-per-cent cost reduction in the civil service, although that was and may continue to be the opening position in its open negotiations with unions.
“There is no set mandate. Each table is unique and being bargained as such,” said Harpauer.
For the 2017-18 fiscal year, Saskatchewan’s government targeted $250 million in public sector compensation savings; but a few months later that target was reduced to $125 million.
Now, the province is aiming for $70 million in savings — $35 million in each of the next two fiscal years — in the public sector.