SEIU-West Members Influence Changes to Government’s SOT scheme

Back in 2012, the government of Saskatchewan announced plans to implement a new ticketing scheme under Occupational Health and Safety regulations, known as Summary Offence Ticketing (SOTs). These tickets or fines would be issued to workers when they violated safety protocols while they were performing their duties. This new plan was to begin January 1, 2013 and would involve 71 violations that could result in fines against employers ($1000), supervisors ($400) and workers ($250) across the province.

On December 20, 2013, we received a copy of the Saskatchewan Gazette (a publication produced by the government of Saskatchewan which announces changes in legislation and regulations) which advised that the number of violations that would lead to a fine had been reduced from 71 to 12. On of these is a worker fine based on a failure to use personal protective equipment.

Why did the government reduce the number of violations?

Because of input from Unions and their members, Employers and working people.

What did you and your Union do to help influence these changes?

SEIU-West sent a submission to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety in May 2012 indicating our objection to the scheme and highlighting it as a ‘blame the worker’ strategy.  We began sharing info in the format of ‘Just The Facts’ with our members who are active on Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) committees and your union executive. Members of SEIU-West participated in the SOT training sessions offered by the OH&S Division of the government of Saskatchewan where they asked questions and raised concerns that the government just couldn’t ignore.

At the same time, SEIU-West members made calls and signed petitions while Union leadership and staff continued to meet with representatives of the OH&S Division to share our concerns about the effects of the SOTs in the workplace. The SEIU-West Worker Safety committee got involved and we were in contact with your employers to ensure clear communication. A letter was sent to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety seeking reconsideration of SOTs in May of 2013.

Your Local President Barbara Cape, subsequently met with the Health Minister to highlight our concerns with unsafe staffing levels and the ticketing scheme.  With the help of the Union, your OH&S committee representatives stepped up communication in the workplace so that more members knew where and who to go to with questions regarding the SOT legislation. All of these activities culminated in a further review of the plan by the government of Saskatchewan.

We want to applaud all of you who assisted us in getting a review of SOTs. We believe that all workplaces should be safe and healthy and will continue to follow this important topic and share information freely.

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