On September 27 & 28, SEIU-West held a virtual townhall which was a province wide teleconference for all our SAHO and Extendicare members. The purpose was to provide a status update on provincial health care negotiations with SAHO and our health region employers.
We have bargained on a number of dates, most recently a 10 day marathon scheduled from Sept 14 to 24. As well, SEIU-West had also spent the month of August travelling throughout the province to talk with our members to provide an update and get feedback.
The response to the townhall was incredible and I want to thank those of you who joined us. This is new technology for us and I believe it was useful to broaden our reach with our members. For those data nerds among us, we reached a total of over 1400 attendees on our 7 pm call on Sept. 27 and for our 2 pm call on Sept. 28, we reached a total of over 900 attendees.
We didn’t get to all of the members questions on the calls, so what I’d like to do over the course of the next few days is set out the questions and provide responses. There might be some repetition from the call, but it will help to repeat the answers.
- With regard to paybands going (one up and one down) have they considered adding more than one step at the top end? – Candice, Saskatoon. The short answer to this is no, we haven’t considered adding 2 steps at the top end. Partly because we’ve developed the pay band structure within the JJE Pay Equity Plan and there hasn’t been a great number of members looking to add more steps to the pay bands. However, members have certainly indicated that they want to see general wage increases applied to the current pay bands!
- Do they know if the government wants to centralize scheduling out of the rural areas and into urban? – Jeremy, Harris. We have had no clear statement that government is looking for that level of centralization within the new Saskatchewan Health Authority. On the townhall call, we talked about how many different call-in systems are at play in the province; there’s a different system in each RHA and there is likely a split between urban and rural. With that being said, with a new provincial health region, we fully expect that there would be some streamlining of the call-in processes and that would include some work around scheduling. But the specifics of this, we do not know.
- Do they not realize we are going to have a harder time recruiting in rural Sask with the change in pay bands? – Tina, Nokomis. We would have a hard time recruiting all over the province! Whether it’s urban or rural, we can’t find staff to recruit into health care. If you are in the trades, nursing, food services, techs…you name it…we are competing with private companies, other provinces and quite simply, it’s a challenge to get the trained, skilled workforce that we need…and that’s at the current rates, let alone if there were 2 lower pay bands! But let me be very clear, this direction is coming from the Government of Saskatchewan in order to save money in health care. I don’t think they know (or care) how it gets done, they are bound and determined to save health care $$$ on the backs of front line health care workers…and what we have heard over and over is that our members will not stand for it!!
We’ll have some more questions posted tomorrow, but remember: NO cuts – NO rollbacks – PAY US what we are worth – TREAT US with respect.
There is a rally coming up on October 25 at the Legislature building in Regina…there are free buses from all over the province to take you there. Bring your neighbours, your families and your friends…we need to stand together and fight back on this proposal. For more details, check our website at www.seiuwest.ca