Help us protect Saskatchewan
workers and their families
Government passes labour law changes that erode workplace rights
Labour laws should make life better – not worse – for working families. But government’s overhaul of all of the province’s labour laws will make life tougher for Saskatchewan workers. Read more »
For generations, Saskatchewan labour laws have created a fair playing field for all workers and employers. And we’ve seen the benefits — a prosperous economy with very little labour confrontation, and safe and healthy workplaces.
We are disappointed that Bill 85, The Saskatchewan Employment Act, was rushed through without adequate consultation, and will strip union members and non-union workers of existing rights. However, SGEU and other unions lobbied hard for changes and we had some success in protecting worker rights in certain areas.
The right to belong to a union
Though Bill 85 will still result in many workers losing their collective bargaining rights, we succeeded in bringing about amendments that will make it more difficult for employers to exclude members from the union. If you are excluded, that is, eliminated from the definition of an “employee” with a right to belong to a union, your job security, seniority and defined hours of work are at risk.
Initially, Bill 85 stated that a person whose duties include activities of a confidential nature, relating to:
- budget planning or implementation
- policy advice, or
- business strategic planning
--- could not be part of a union. This would have deprived hundreds of SGEU members of union rights.
However, amendments passed just days before the end of the legislative session limit the provision. Now, for a person to be excluded from the union, the activities of a confidential nature would have to be among their ‘primary duties’ and potentially ‘have an impact on the bargaining unit’ the person is part of’. Unless these conditions are met, the person remains an employee for labour relations purposes.
The amended provision still goes too far in attempting to deprive workers of their right to belong to a union, but the changes mean that fewer people will be negatively affected.
You can help protect the rights of Saskatchewan workers by sending a message to Labour Minister Don Morgan and your MLA, asking him to slow down and talk to workers, unions and families.
Loss of rights
Supervisors forced out
There has been little improvement in the Bill 85 provision that forces employees with supervisory duties out of the bargaining unit they currently belong to. An amendment stipulates that a person’s primary duties must be supervisory in nature before they are considered supervisors. This restriction will reduce the number of employees who will be forced out of their existing bargaining unit by the new law.
Nonetheless, hundreds of SGEU members could lose the stability and strength of their current unit. Seniority, benefits, and other union rights will be in jeopardy. Supervisory employees will be forced to reorganize under new bargaining units if they want to retain union representation – and members of a smaller, supervisory bargaining unit will have few options for bumping into a different job if a position is eliminated as a result of downsizing.
Barriers to collective bargaining
The proposed changes will also make it more difficult to achieve a fair contract. Bill 85 will mean more interference in the bargaining process. For example, the employer can identify any offer made after collective bargaining has occurred – including their first – as a ‘final offer’, and force a union vote on it. This is an unfair tactic that will allow employers to intimidate union workers.
Family and friends in non-union jobs stand to lose rights
We are hopeful that we have succeeded in preventing the erosion of some basic workplace rights and protections for non-union workers. The labour movement raised concerns that Bill 85 would erode the 8-hour work day, the 40-hour work week, and two consecutive days off.
Recent government statements suggest that they will not go as far as planned in attacking our province’s labour standards, and an amendment will at least preserve the 8-hour work day for part-time workers.
Details will become clearer once the regulations which accompany the legislation are made public, likely by this fall — but for now Bill 85 tears down some important statutory protections for labour standards.
You can help protect the rights of Saskatchewan workers by sending a message to Labour Minister Don Morgan and your MLA, asking him to slow down and talk to workers and their families.
Let’s keep up the pressure
The actions of all those who talked to their Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), wrote letters, signed petitions and sent emails helped bring about the positive amendments to Bill 85.
But there is still more work to be done. We need to keep the pressure on by:
- Talking to your friends, family and co-workers about the impact of these labour law changes.
- Talking about it on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Discussing how this could affect your workplace with co-workers and other union members.
- Sending a message to Labour Minister Don Morgan and your MLA, asking him to slow down and talk to workers and their families.
Media and Resources
Speak out for fair workplaces TV Ad
Unchecked Powers – Air date: March 2013
You may need: Adobe Flash Player.
Find out more
Recent government documents
» Government Consultation Paper on The Saskatchewan Employment Act Associated Regulations [ Download PDF ]
» Gov't passes labour law changes that erode workers’ rights. [ Download PDF ]
» Government rushing labour law changes. [ Download PDF ]
» Labour law changes will mean workplace disruption. [ Download PDF ]
» SGEU submission to the Minister of Labour. [ Download PDF ]
» SGEU Bill 85 Fact Sheets. [ Download PDF ]
» A side-by-side analysis of current and proposed labour law. [ Download PDF ]
» NUPGE submission to the Minister of Labour. [ Download PDF ]
Send a Message
Make sure your voice is heard
Add your voice to others who are saying that you believe in the Saskatchewan way. To send your thoughts to the Minister of Labour and your MLA, you have two options:
- In the letter below, you'll find a list of reasons for keeping labour laws that are fair to working people and their families. Check off the reasons you wish to include in your email letter and click 'Next'. In the right-hand panel, select your MLA from the drop down list, add your name, email address and postal code, and click the “Send Email” button. We'll also keep you up-to-date on how this campaign is progressing.
- Want to customize your email? After you've entered your contact information, simply click the “Customize” button and the email you've created so far will be opened in your email program, where you can add your own thoughts.