Saskatchewan

60 P.A. health care workers on strike

Sixty specialized health workers were off the job in Prince Albert Monday morning — the first phase of job action after the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan gave strike notice last week.

Sixty specialized health workers went off the job in Prince Albert at 8 a.m. CST Monday — the first phase of job action after the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan gave strike notice last week.

Workers on strike include those from a number of professions like addictions counsellors, therapists, and public health inspectors. The union, which represents 3,000 members, says workers have been without a contract for two years -- and want binding arbitration to solve the problem.

In March, the union was offered a 7.5 per cent wage hike over four years, with the first two raises being retroactive to March 31, 2009. HSAS said at the time it would continue to press for a better offer. However, the employer, the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), says arbitration is not the solution. 

"We believe what we have already offered has competitive wages already included," SAHO spokeswoman Susan Antosh said. "We've also indicated to the union that we have some room to move. What we need to see is some movement from them."

SAHO was not told the details of Monday morning's job action, Antosh said.

Cathy Dickson, president of the union, said management has to be more flexible. More job action will happen in the days ahead, she said, although the union isn't saying exactly what.

"It's kind of a frustrating situation for us, as well as the public," she said.

Under the province's essential services legislation, about 50 per cent of workers have been deemed essential and are not allowed to go on strike.

The union will respect the law during the dispute, Dickson said.

The two sides are set to meet on Tuesday.

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