The two outstanding issues that precipitated the strike have been referred to "binding arbitration". Previously, CUPE had offered to end the strike by referring these same two issues to "non-binding mediation" - an offer that was rejected by the University leadership.
The following excerpt from the article speaks volumes:
"It's not the resolution we wanted, but the government's threat of back-to-work legislation meant 'arbitration' was the only topic of discussion at the conciliation table," says CUPE 1975 bargaining chair Brad McKaig. "Since both employers appeared to prefer legislation to negotiation, it had a huge influence on what we could achieve at the table."So how did all of this come to pass? I think that the President of the U of S - probably called (former University of Saskatchewan employee) the new Minister in charge of the labour portfolio (Rob Norris) and asked for the government to exert the heavy hand and introduce the threat of legislation. Plain and simple.
Premier Brad Wall told the media on Thursday the government would end the strike through back-to-work legislation if no agreement was reached in concilation talks, which resumed Friday.
"Given the threat of government intervention, our only option was to influence how arbitration would proceed, not whether it would proceed," says McKaig.
I also think that the new Minister responded to the request, and the Premier issued the "threat".
Now, just to put things in perspective - during the week prior to CUPE 1975 voting on the employers "so-called final offer", I placed a call to the new Minister and offered (through his office) to meet with him to discuss the matter, and offered to provide labour's perspective. I'm still waiting to hear back from Mr. Norris in this regard. Somehow, I don't think he's interested in anything workers or their representatives have to say about anything.
I guess that's what the new Minister meant when he said to reporters following his appointment that the government would be "Rebalancing the relationship with labour". And that's what the new Premier meant when he said during the election campaign that he would be "Reaching out to labour".