Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
It looks as if the relationship between the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU) and the territorial government is still fractious.
The union and the government are already at loggerheads over the vaccine mandate imposed by the government back in November.
Now, the two sides have started bargaining negotiations for a new collective agreement covering some 6,000 employees.
Steve Geick, the president of the YEU, provided an update in a recent newsletter to members.
Contacted by the Star last Wednesday, Geick said he didn’t really have anything further to add on the situation.
“We’re scheduled back at the table Jan. 31st-Feb. 4th. Might have something then,” he wrote in an email.
In the newsletter, he wrote to the YEU membership, “We have started bargaining with the Yukon government and it’s already clear that this will be one of the most contentious rounds of bargaining we have undertaken.
“We expect the employer will again attempt to make changes to severance entitlements as they have the last two rounds of negotiations. The membership was absolutely clear three years ago that they will not stand for any changes that will impact their ability to retire with dignity, and are not willing to allow the creation of a two-tiered work force of those who have and those who don’t,” he wrote.
“When we polled the membership during the last round of negotiations, a surprising majority of members told us that any attempt to claw back severance entitlements would be a strike issue.”
Geick went on to write, “The employer rationale for suggesting this last round was simply that no one else, including YG managers, still had severance. That rationale is like an angry child stomping their feet and saying, ‘if I can’t have it, no one can!’”
He continued to blast the government for its overall handling of the situation.
“This self-proclaimed Top 100 Employer can neither retain nor recruit the front-line workers needed to protect Yukoners during this global pandemic and state of emergency,” Geick wrote.
“It is very telling that they would even consider removing such an important incentive during this time of crisis.
“Please do not get me wrong; YG’s inability to recruit and retain quality people is not new, nor is it solely a result of the present situation.
The pandemic has made everything more difficult, but this situation is not new by any stretch of the imagination.
“Their willingness to ignore or pay lip service to malignant organizational issues, including systemic racism, harassment and bullying, has made way for what we are now seeing.
“The reluctance to offer competitive wages and the chronic lack of transparency has been fostered and rewarded by the politicians who spend an inordinate amount of time praising themselves and blaming everyone else for their inability to govern.”
John Streicker, the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, told the Star last Thursday he was not able to offer much of a comment on the situation.
As minister, he’s not directly involved in the bargaining, but is receiving regular updates on the progress of the negotiations.
“I don’t want to say anything that might impact on those discussions,” Streicker said.
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