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Scott Moe is overseeing record job losses at SaskTel

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SaskTel is a Crown corporation held in high regard for its customer service and province-wide coverage. Under the Scott Moe government, it has been experiencing a troubling trend: the gradual but steady contracting out of union jobs.

This shift, marked by a reduction of approximately 300 good jobs in the last four years—10% of the unionized workforce—poses a threat not just to workers but to the very ethos of what a Crown corporation represents in Saskatchewan.

Contracting out at SaskTel are not isolated incidents but part of a broader, worrying pattern under the Sask Party.

Unifor learned in fall 2023 that contract workers initially hired for door-to-door sales are now undertaking “inside work”, including outbound calling normally done by full-time, unionized workers. This shift in responsibilities is a subtle yet clear indication of the blurring lines between contracted and in-scope work.

These threats come on the heels of job postings flagged in 2023 by Unifor on job sites like simplyhired.ca. Berks Payment Solutions posted for a “Major Telecom Sales Representative”, a role historically filled by full-time SaskTel workers. 

The same third-party contractor has opened a call centre in Regina to engage in work that traditionally falls within the scope of SaskTel’s unionized employees. This development raises critical questions about the future of good jobs in Saskatchewan and the safeguards in place to protect them. 

Former Crowns SecurTek and DirectWest (now part of SaskTel) have also been subject to contracting out.

Relentless contracting out at the Crowns are not mere operational changes but are indicative of a systematic shift that undermines good full-time jobs in our province.

As a Crown corporation, SaskTel is more than just a business entity—it is a critical part of public telecommunications infrastructure and a source of good, community-sustaining jobs. Healthy and profitable Crowns like SaskTel are not just the envy of other provinces, but every jurisdiction where public infrastructure giants have evolved into privatized, foreign-owned providers of “McJobs” paying minimum wage.

The erosion of union jobs in favor of contracted positions is not necessary nor inevitable. The Moe government and the Sask Party are choosing privatization and the resulting erosion of service, accountability, and good jobs. Community investment and fair labour practices are being replaced by out-of-province ownership and low-quality jobs.

SaskTel’s creeping privatization speaks to a broader trend of undervaluing the skills, dedication, and rights of workers in favor of short-term cost savings and flexible staffing models. This approach fails to recognize the long-term social and economic benefits of maintaining a strong, stable, and unionized workforce.

In other words, its unionized workforce is a key strength of SaskTel. Undermining good jobs by contracting them out weakens SaskTel and will be reflected in quality of service offered to tens of thousands of customers in Saskatchewan. 

Gavin McGarrigle is Unifor’s Western Regional Director

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