SASKATOON -- As of 12:01 a.m. Friday Crown workers in Saskatchewan started walking the picket line.

Employees at Sask Energy, SaskPower, Securtek, Direct West, SaskWater and the Water Security Agency, as well as Unifor members at SaskTel have all walked off the job.

The move comes after Unifor, the union representing the workers, and the province were unable to reach an agreement this week during bargaining talks.

Unifor, the union representing the workers, has said a key issue is the province’s push for wage freezes.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said in a statement released over the weekend that the province is not proposing a freeze and is offering employees an increase that amounts to five per cent over five years.

However, a SaskTel worker walking the picket line outside the Crown’s downtown Saskatoon office said other issues are also at play.

“The big issue for our Crown, power and energy, it’s about (work being) contracting out”, said Mike Pilipow, a local union vice-president, referring to two other Crowns involved in the labour dispute.

Pilipow said he doesn't want to be on the picket line and hopes a resolution can quickly be found.

In addition to the picket line outside SaskTel’s offices, the Crown’s downtown retail location was also closed Friday morning.

Prior to walking off the job, workers at the seven Crowns had engaged in a work-to-rule campaign that started Monday.