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Yukon union vows to fight gov't decision to close Queen's Printer, Central Stores

The president of the Yukon Employees' Union says he will continue fighting to reverse a Yukon government decision to privatize the Queen's Printer. 

PSAC tells union members across the country to boycott Staples, who it says has a gov't printing contract

Steve Geick, centre, speaks at a press conference on Thursday. He says the Yukon government has shown disrespect to union members. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

The president of the Yukon Employees Union says his group will continue fighting a Yukon government decision to privatize the Queen's Printer Agency. 

"We want it stopped. And we will keep pressuring them," said Steve Geick after a union-organized rally at the Yukon Legislature on Thursday.

The Yukon government plans to reduce their use of the Queen's Printer, a government agency that prints government documents. 

Geick said the government has not shared any documentation to back up its claim that privatizing the printer will save $1.6 million a year. 

Chris Aylward, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, of which the Yukon Employees' Union is a part, spoke at Thursday's rally.

Chris Aylward of the Public Service Alliance of Canada addresses a rally on Thursday. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

He said Staples has been given the contract for some of the government printing.   

"We're here to also put Staples on notice that you will be boycotted," he told the crowd. "You will not just be boycotted here. You will be boycotted right across the country."

Aylward said the union represents about 15,000 employees across Canada and is asking all of them to boycott Staples in support of Yukon workers.

The Liberal government said the 17 employees affected by the Queen's Printer closure will be moved into other jobs within government, but Geick said that's beside the point.

"It's about people that have been there, some between 15 and 25 years, that are being sent to do other jobs that may or may not necessarily be what they consider to be their career path."

He said the government called the employees' work "archaic" and "obsolete" in the legislature.

"It's just total disrespect." 

Gov't offices running low on toilet paper

The Yukon government is also closing Central Stores, the department that stocks and ships commonly used supplies on behalf of government departments, such as pens, paper and furniture. 

"They've been told for over a year not to order more stock," said Geick. 

A rally was held Thursday to protest the privatization of the Queen's Printer and the closure of Central Stores. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

He said he ran into someone on Thursday whose office had run out of toilet paper and said they were told to buy some at the grocery store with a government credit card. 

"That's not an efficient use of taxpayer money."

Geick called the situation "bizarre," adding that the government should address any problems with the agencies themselves, rather than dismantling them. 

Speaking in the legislature last month, Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent criticized the government for consulting suppliers after it announced it was closing Central Stores.

"For lack of a better term it's a real ass-backwards way of of doing things when you make the decision and then consult later," he said. 

Richard Mostyn, highways and public works minister, said the move will save money and create opportunities for private sector suppliers.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said the Yukon Government was "dismantling" the Queen's Printer. In fact, the Yukon Government will continue to use the Queen's Printer for printing some government documents, but will outsource most projects to the private sector.
    Nov 15, 2019 7:28 PM CT

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