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Union, City of Prince Albert to try and agree on 'essential' workers after strike vote

The City of Prince Albert and the union representing outside municipal workers may attempt to mutually agree on which workers are "essential" following a strike vote.

Members of CUPE 160 voted in favour of potential job action at a union meeting held on Thursday.

According to Leslie Mourot Bartley, president of CUPE 160, 81 per cent of voting members support job action, up to and including a full withdrawal of services.

The union says there are several steps it needs to undertake before any job action can occur. This includes declaring impasse, mandatory conciliation, and a formal essential service agreement.

“There is no essential service list created as of yet, both parties have to come together and agree on an essential list,” Mourot Bartley said.

CUPE 160 represents workers including those at the water treatment plant, parks and recreation, roadways and the cemetery.

If both parties cannot agree on how many positions are deemed essential the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board will make the call.

“We thought that having this mandate would let the city know that we are not going to get run over by them any longer,” Mourot Bartley said.

The union says the city is pushing for fewer sick days, changes to overtime call-back rules and is not agreeing to provide a coffee pot, fridge, or microwave in break rooms.

The city says it met with the union at the end of October and the union requested a 16 per cent general wage increase over four years.

When the city rejected the offer, it says the union came back with an even higher wage request.

"The combined current offer from the city of 11.5% is the maximum amount the City is prepared to ask taxpayers to pay," said Kiley Bear, Prince Albert's director of Corporate Services, Kiley Bear.

CUPE 160 members have been without a contract since December of 2021.

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