(30 June 2011)
Crop Insurance Strike Averted
I am pleased to report that crop insurance claims will now be processed for farmers facing historic flooding. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) have reached a tentative agreement ending the recent strike forced by SGEU leaders. The terms of the fair, market competitive tentative agreement, include a 5.5 per cent general wage increase over three years, along with several other benefits.
On June 21, SGEU directed Crop Insurance employees to walk off the job. Why? Well, according to SGEU President Bob Bymoen, it was because there was a “window of opportunity” to put pressure on their employer. Describing the devastating flooding that has wiped out fields and homes across the province this summer as a “window of opportunity” is appalling, deplorable and unconscionable. Premier Brad Wall called on Bymoen to end the strike within 24 hours. When that didn’t happen, the Premier took action to stand up for Saskatchewan farm and ranch families.
Premier Wall announced he was recalling the Legislature for a special sitting starting on June 27. Twenty-four hours later, SGEU and SCIC announced they had reached a tentative contract agreement, ending the three-day strike. Farm and ranch families across the province breathed a collective sigh of relief.
So, where were the NDP on this? Leader Dwain Lingenfelter refused to take a position, saying “I'm not in favour of what they're (SGEU) saying or doing or opposed to it.” Regina MLA Kevin Yates even went so far as to say the strike wouldn’t actually make much of a difference for farmers. And Regina NDP candidate Yens Pedersen tweeted, “There’s no urgency to get Crop Insurance adjusters back to work. If a field is flooded, you can’t work it down, or reseed it anyway!” That’s like saying if your house burns down you shouldn’t get your insurance money right away, because you can’t live in it anyway! How out of touch can you get?
At the time of the strike, only 44 per cent of the crop had been seeded in south-east Saskatchewan and 6,000 unseeded acreage claims had already been submitted to Crop Insurance. The strike would have caused a significant delay in payments. Once again, the NDP turned its back on farmers and rural Saskatchewan just like they did during the 16 years they were in government. In the months and years ahead, our government will continue to stand up for farm and ranch families and work with them so that we can move this province forward together – that’s the Saskatchewan Advantage.
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