Letter to the Federal Minister of Health and the CEO of Canadian Blood Services

Dear Honourable Patty Hajdu and Dr. Graham Sher

RE: Canadian Blood Services Regina & Saskatoon Saskatchewan

I write to you both on behalf of our members who work on the front line providing donor care in Saskatchewan. These members have been without a contract since March 31, 2017. The main impediment to resolving these negotiations, achieving a contract and labour stability, has been reaching an agreement to provide stable and secure employment for these valuable workers.

Despite that frustration, and the lack of any pay raise for three years, these members have continued to report to work and provide valuable services to Canadians through the challenging, and sometimes alarming, working conditions presented by the COVID pandemic.

What is most discouraging about this circumstance is the obvious inequity in how the employer values our member's work when compared with that of out of scope personnel. We know that the out-of-scope positions in Saskatchewan are primarily permanent full-time positions and we are also aware of the recent increases in salary (4%-5%) applied as of February 3 , 2020. Yet, our members remain without a contract for over 1000 days!

SEIU-West members provide the full spectrum of blood donor care services across many communities in Saskatchewan. Their confidential donor screening, phlebotomy services, safe handling and processing, labeling and transport of blood and blood products is the foundation for a high-performance blood system that is both trusted and respected in our province.

Yet, the employer will not commit to the creation of meaningful jobs with predictable work schedules for these employees. Without stability, our members cannot focus on CBS as employment where they can realize their potential.

They must look elsewhere for added work to supplement their income. Despite good faith bargaining and significant concessions from the members the employer has yet to propose a fair collective agreement. The employer strategy through COVID provides a stark example.

A memo was issued to confirm where normal work is currently unavailable or if an employee is either sick or must act as a primary caregiver that the employer will continue to pay the employee at their normal rate.

There is no question that the permanent full-time employee will benefit from your assurance. What kind of assurance does this provide for the part time worker who is regularly scheduled 10 hours per week and regularly works added hours to the extent of a further thirty hours?

         
There is no good time for a labour dispute but the context of the COVID pandemic is clearly the worst time. We trust you appreciate our effort to reach out with a view to achieving a resolve of the outstanding issues.

We continue to be willing to bargain in good faith and we are mindful, now more than ever, of the need for fair and sustainable working conditions for our members and labour stability for CBS and the public that it serves.

We ask that you provide some much needed direction to the employer-side bargaining committee to stimulate timely negotiations with a fair outcome.

Thank you for your earliest attention to this matter.

Respectfully,

Barbara Cape

President, SEIU-West

cc.   Cam Mcconnell, Negotiations OHicer SEIU-West
       Jennifer Bowes, Union Representative SEIU-West
       Shelley Johnson, Union Representative SEIU-West

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