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Striking Prince Albert city workers 'optimistic' as Sask. labour ministry gets involved in dispute

Sasaktchewan's labour ministry is stepping in to help resolve a dispute between the City of Prince Albert and striking workers.

More than 100 city workers walked off the job last on Sept. 11 after contract negotiations reached an impasse.

Last week, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 882 asked labour minister Don McMorris to appoint a special mediator to help the two sides reach a deal.

“We want to have meaningful conversations around negotiating with the employer, and the only way that was going to happen was through some kind of third-party intervention,” Cara Stelmaschuk, vice president with CUPE 882 told CTV News.

McMorris stopped short of appointing a special mediator, instead turning to Kristin Anderson, a senior ministry staffer.

“After careful consideration of the request for a special mediator, the Executive Director of Labour Relations and Mediation has been appointed to assist in the conciliation of a collective agreement between the parties under section 6-27 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act as opposed to assigning a special mediator," a labour ministry statement said.

"We encourage the parties to participate in this process."

Anderson will meet with both the city and union on Wednesday.

“We’ve made it very clear to the conciliator that our position remains the same. We have our entire mandate on the table. We have no way to enhance that mandate in any way,” Kevin Yates, HR manager with the City of Prince Albert said in an interview.

The city is offering an 11 per cent increase with another half percent for lower-tier workers. The union is asking for 12 percent and increases in benefits.

CUPE 882 has been without a contract since December 2021, with negotiations starting a year later in December 2022.

The union voted for job action up to and including a full withdrawal of services in June.

“We have to be optimistic right, again we want the deal done. We don’t want to be out here all the time. We want to do our jobs,” Stelmaschuk said. Top Stories

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