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Unionized Crown workers ready for long labour fight
REGINA -- There’s strength in numbers and with cold, windy weather, the 5,000 unionized crown corporation workers are banding together to deal with the elements.
Keeping morale high is Kathy Greer’s job each day on the picket lines.
“We’re trying hard to insure that we keep their spirits bolstered and not let negativity set in,” Greer, a picket captain, said. “In addition to what we’re trying to do – in terms of what we need to get back to the table and get bargaining – we have to deal with the elements out here.”
The Unifor workers have been on strike for five days. They were bundled up and coffee was in full supply on Tuesday.
The striking workers are required to be on the picket lines for four hours per day and they will receive $300 a week in strike pay. Losing their regular pay cheque will be tough, but Jacquie Sebastian says it’s what they need to do to stand up to the Government.
“We have a lot of single people with children, we have a lot of part-time people that can’t get another job, or aren’t ready to get another job, and I’m out of a pay cheque, there’s lots of people out of a pay cheque right now, so it’s going to be tough for them,” Sebastian said.
The Government and Unifor have given no indication of heading back to the bargaining table soon, while the picketers we spoke with said their ready to continue the fight as long as it takes.
“We don’t want to get good at this because that means we’re still out on the picket lines, but the most we can do is just go day-by-day and try to take each day in stride is the most important,” Greer said.
The union is asking for a two per cent cost of living increase this year, but the Government has offered a five per cent increase over five years with no increase in the first two years.
With the two sides still far apart, the picketers will be back on the sidewalks again on Wednesday.