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Monday, July 9, 2007

Caregiver micro-strike drags on

There's still no deal in the Saskatchewan health-care dispute that could potentially put 2,700 workers on the picket line. The union represents staff in a variety of jobs, including social workers, hospital pharmacists, physiotherapists, addictions counsellors, respiratory therapists and speech language pathologists. Although only about one per cent of workers have gone on strike, health districts have been preparing for full-scale job action, cancelling surgeries, discharging patients who do not require acute care and asking members of the public not to come to emergency rooms unless it's a real health emergency.

After three days of negotiations that began Friday, conciliators at the Saskatoon talks said it's time to take a break. Talks will restart in Regina Tuesday between the union, the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, and the employer group, the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations.

Conciliator Doug Forseth wouldn't say whether the 28 workers who are currently on strike will be heading back to work, but said he expects there will be no escalation in the strike over the next few days. Forseth also wouldn't say how talks were going on Sunday, but said recesses like this one are fairly commonplace in labour negotiations. The two sides have been without a contract since the last one expired on March 31. Money issues have been key over the past several weeks.