While the provincial government is looking at possibly bringing in unpaid work days for public sector employees, local school divisions have the option of choosing a different route.
The provincial government under Premier Brad Wall has been searching for ways to reduce the $1.2 -billion deficit. Wall, while attending the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention earlier this month, told the Crown nothing was off the table to find savings. The most recent option now being considered is having public-sector employees take unpaid days off.
The possible move echoes what then NDP Premier Bob Rae did in the early 90s, which were later called Rae Days.
Robert Bratvold, the director of education for Sask. Rivers School Division, said school divisions aren’t under the same structure as the provincial government.
“The government can’t determine what school boards do or don’t do with their employee groups and their contracts,” he said. “If the government makes a decision on public employees requiring them to take one unpaid day per month or something like that, that can’t apply to school employees under current legislation.”
While teachers and other school employees are protect from those government decisions, Bratvold points out the division will still be affected by the challenges the province faces. He said that in turn could mean staffing levels could be impacted.
The provincial teachers’ agreement is up in August but the local teacher agreement doesn’t expire until 2019. Bratvold added the agreement with the local Canadian Union of Public Employees doesn’t expire until 2020.
Following the announcement unpaid work days could be brought in, unions across the province have taken a strong stance against the idea.
The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) in a media release on Thursday decried the government’s proposal. The SGEU argued the unpaid days would amount to a pay cut, which could cause hard to the economy.
Bob Bymoen, president of SGEU, said in the release the government’s decision to announce wage rollbacks and job cuts were a calculated move to make mandatory unpaid days off seem more attractive.
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