Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is calling the province’s legislature back to work, to order striking crop insurance employees back to work.
Wall said Thursday he has asked the legislature’s speaker, Moosomin MLA Don Toth, to formally recall the legislature for a Monday (June 27) sitting.
Wall said in a release that the legislature would reconvene to “end the strike” by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. (SCIC) workers, which presumably means passing a bill ordering an end to the unionized employees’ job action.
“We will not allow Saskatchewan farmers to be exploited as leverage in a labour dispute,” Wall said. “They paid for crop insurance coverage and we will ensure they receive that coverage.”
The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU), which represents the 470 workers at SCIC’s head office and outlets provincewide, said Thursday its negotiating committee had gone back to the bargaining table with SCIC management on Wednesday, as offered in a previous statement that day.
However, the SGEU said, SCIC “returned to the table with the same wage offer that bargaining unit members have already said is unacceptable.”
The union said it’s asking for pay increases of 7.75 per cent over three years, while SCIC came back to the table with its previous offer of 5.5 per cent over the same time period.
However, SGEU negotiating committee chair Alan Evans said in a release, “we are not that far apart. Surely, there is room for meaningful negotiations.”
Wall on Thursday ripped the union for deciding “to continue this unconscionable strike at a time when so many Saskatchewan producers are facing a devastating situation as a result of this year’s massive flooding.”
The striking employees, whose last contract ended in September 2009, handle production insurance and the federal/provincial AgriStability program for farmers in the province.
SCIC on Wednesday cited both the strike and ongoing flooding issues in the province’s southeast when it extended farmers’ deadlines to June 30 to submit their establishment benefit claims, unseeded acreage benefit claims, seeded acreage reports and stored grain declarations for crop insurance purposes.
Sask. crop insurance reporting deadlines extended, June 22, 2011
Saskatchewan crop insurance staff hit the bricks, June 21, 2011