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Saskatchewan labour climate stable according to arbitrator

Watch above: labour relations calm in Saskatchewan compared to other regions

SASKATOON – Saskatchewan’s labour relations climate is relatively calm compared to other parts of the country, according to a local arbitrator.

Alan Ponak, a labour arbitrator and mediator, referenced British Columbia’s current teacher’s strike when assessing the current labour situation in Saskatchewan.

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“There have been major province wide walkouts in almost every sector of their economy; we haven’t seen that nearly to the same extent in Saskatchewan,” said Ponak, who has been a practising arbitrator since 1982.

“Right now in Saskatchewan we have relative labour stability; the worst on-going dispute is Cameco in the uranium sector,” he added.

Saskatchewan does have a number of groups that are looking for new contacts.

Cameco’s labour dispute has led to a work stoppage at two of its production facilities. Saskatoon’s transit union has been at odds with the city over a new contract and Saskatchewan’s teachers are also looking for a new deal with the province.

In 2011, Saskatchewan’s teachers took limited strike action, however the current dispute hasn’t gotten to that point yet.

“There’s certainly not a love-in between the labour movement and the current government, but I think by and large they’ve managed to work together,” said Ponak, who added that all governments, regardless of party affiliation, end up in labour disagreements.

Despite the current disputes, data from the Canadian Labour Congress suggests that being in a union is financially beneficial. The group, which says it represents the interests of affiliated workers, claims that unionised workers in Saskatchewan make $4.99 an hour more than the non-unionised labour force.