SaskTel to prevent employees from returning to work, considers legal action

REGINA — SaskTel says it won't allow striking employees to temporarily return to work and is considering court action against what it calls illegal labour disruption.

The Crown employees were planning to leave picket lines and return to their jobs Tuesday to give both sides in stalled contract talks a chance to get back to the bargaining table.

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More than 5,000 workers at six Crown corporations and one Crown agency began striking at various locations Friday.

Earlier Monday, SaskTel workers formed picket lines around call centres in Regina and Saskatoon to prevent management from going inside.

Chris Macdonald with Unifor had said striking employees planned to return on a work-to-rule basis Tuesday.

But SaskTel says it won't allow its workers inside buildings because intermittent walkouts would affect customer service.

SaskTel said in a release later Monday that the union would only provide 24-hour notice of another walkout, and it's considering applying for an injunction to stop further disruption.

"It is unacceptable that management employees are being prevented from entering their workplace and are reportedly being threatened for attempting to do so," said the release.

SaskTel added that contract negotiations with Unifor have been ongoing since January.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who was leaving Monday on an overseas trade mission, has said he believes the government's offer of a five per cent increase over five years is fair.

The union, which says that offer includes wage freezes, is seeking pay raises of two per cent in each of 2019, 2020 and 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2019.

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