Province looking to privatize cleaning services in government buildings

The Saskatchewan Government is looking to privatize cleaning services across the province's government buildings, a move which has drawn harsh criticism from the SGEU.

SGEU criticizes move, saying it won't fix economic woes

A government spokesperson said if there are no savings to be found then no changes will be made. (Kevin O'Connor/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) is criticizing the Saskatchewan government after talks about privatizing the cleaning services across all government-owned buildings in the province on Wednesday.

According to a government spokesperson, the ministry of central services is in talks to evaluate whether or not it would be beneficial to hire private sector workers to provide cleaning services.

This is a move criticized by the SGEU, whose president says the push to privatize is ideological and will result in 251 job cuts.

Looking for savings

The ministry has submitted a request for services which will remain open until Feb. 10. There are currently 30 government-owned buildings across the province in which private sector employees are already employed. The ministry is currently looking for savings in the private sector but if there are none to be had then there would be no changes, a spokesperson said in an email.

Bob Bymoen, president of the SGEU, argued there would be no savings to be found but it's already basically a done deal. Bymoen said private companies are typically awarded contracts for a similar amount to what was being paid to the employees who lost their jobs; the private companies then bring in their own employees, pay them minimum wage and pocket the difference, he argues. 

There is no impact to government employees as of yet, the government spokesperson said. The SGEU refutes this saying seven jobs have already been lost in Weyburn's J Auburn Pepper Building — which the province leases — when the owner of the building took over cleaning services.

'Completely unethical'

"I'm told there will be additional 'points' (or however they are rating proponents) for employees that wish to bid on the work; and as well for any company that commits to hiring existing cleaning staff," the government spokesperson said in the email.

Bymoen called the move to have workers bid on their own job "completely unethical."

The SGEU says 139 permanent full-time, 59 permanent part-time and 53 non-permanent positions are affected.

People will need to be paid to tender the offers and oversee the contract, which will incur further costs, Bymoen said.