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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.

Removing union workers from their rights

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.
Removing union workers from their rights

Media and Resources

Speak out for fair workplaces TV Ad

Radio Ad

Unchecked Powers – Air date: March 2013

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Find out more

Recent government documents

» Government Consultation Paper on The Saskatchewan Employment Act Associated Regulations [ Download PDF ]

News Releases

» 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 ]

Additional Information

» 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Fair regulations and workable essential services

Saskatchewan working families want quality jobs and shared prosperity. Labour laws should help us achieve those goals. But the new Saskatchewan Employment Act will make life harder for many workers and their families.

While Bill 85 has been passed, many critical decisions will be made through the regulations that accompany the Act. It is not acceptable to further erode longstanding workplace rights through regulations, which are not debated by elected representatives in the Legislative Assembly. Further, new essential services provisions are yet to be developed. We ask that you fully consult with unions to ensure that new provisions are fair and workable.

I urge you to develop regulations to the new Act that:

I also urge you to work with unions to create fair and workable essential services that:
• Ensure that binding arbitration is available to resolve bargaining impasses
• Designate only services, not individuals, as essential, to ensure that more workers are able to exercise their right to strike
• Do not expect unions to manage work schedules during a labour dispute.

Finally, I urge you to ensure that Saskatchewan workers and their labour organizations have the necessary information and adequate time to participate in a meaningful way in the development of labour legislation and regulations.

Send a message

Please enter your information in the fields below. We can instantly send your message for you, or if you prefer to customize your message you may choose to open the original in your own email application to make changes before sending it off.

To: Hon. Don Morgan
      Minister of Labour

Cc: My MLA:

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