OH&S Conference Attendee Perspective: Stand up, report any and all violence in the workplace

GSU member Mark Lannigan attended the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s OH&S conference Sept. 11 – 13 in Regina, and he was happy he had made attending a priority.

“It was a great experience. Not just the course, but also on a personal level,” Mark said. “I met people who have connections to my mom’s life. One lady from her most recent work experience and one from my mom’s childhood.”

This is an experience that wouldn’t have happened had he not made the choice to attend the conference and meet new people.

The course Mark chose to attend was the prevention of violence in the workplace. After hearing members from other unions and workplaces speak, he came to the conclusion that the biggest obstacle to preventing violence in the workplace is the lack of reporting.

“If we want to make a difference and make a change for our children, we need to stand up and report any and all violence in the workplace,” he said.

On Thursday afternoon, conference attendees traveled to participate in a supportive march with UFCW members who had been locked out of their Heritage Inn Hotel workplace since September 7, 2023.

“For me, this march was inspiring and disheartening at the same time,” said Mark. “In order to create a better future for our children and our grandchildren, we need to make sure we stand up now for ourselves and others and show solidarity to all who are under attack by their employers. That’s true not only in our workplaces, but in our communities as well.”

Mark hopes to attend the next OH&S conference to learn more about what we can do to continue making our working lives better.

“Attending the conference led to a newfound inspiration for Mark and conference attendees,” said GSU staff rep Brian Lark. “They realize that the need for unions in the workplace is even greater now than it has ever been.”

If you are interested in learning more or attending a GSU education opportunity, contact your GSU staff rep.

GSU members and staff attended the annual Sask. Federation of Labour’s OH&S conference last week

The act and regulations regarding OH&S were born in Saskatchewan 50 years ago.

Since then, Canada and many other countries have come to Saskatchewan to observe and adopt our laws and regulations regarding OH&S.

To learn more about GSU’s contribution CLICK HERE.

Among the GSU attendees staff rep Brian Lark who chose the Saskatchewan Employment Act and Regulations Regarding OH&S class.

“As great as it was to see so many safety-orientated people, it was disheartening to hear that a safe workplace didn’t always seem to be the main priority for all employers,” Lark said. “Too many participants confirmed that the employer didn’t always follow the rules and regulations when it came to safety, the committees, and the employee contributions to safety.”

“The right to safe workplaces is a right that we are all entitled to and one that we all must participate in,” Lark continued. “If you see unsafe work, say something. If you are involved in an unsafe situation, speak up. If you are unsure if your workplace has a committee or if you want to know more about the rules and regulations regarding safety in your workplace, ask a shop steward, your manager or Human Resources.”

“The only way to effect change is to hold ourselves and our employers responsible for safety. Saskatchewan was the birthplace of safety laws and regulations, but we continually lead the country in workplace injuries and fatalities,” Lark concluded. “We need to make safety top of mind for everyone and ensure all workers go home in the same or better condition than they arrived at work.” 

Would you like to attend the SFL’s OH&S Conference being held Sept. 12-14 in Regina? Learn more here.

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour OH&S Conference
September 12-14, 2018 ~ Delta Hotel, Regina, SK

The courses offered at the 2018 OH&S conference are: 

  • Occupational Health and Safety and the Act and Regulations
  • Effective OH&S Working Committees
  • Harassment Investigation in the Workplace
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Domestic Violence in the Workplace: Starting the Conversation
  • Managing Shiftwork and Workload
  • Sprains, Aches and Pains (Ergonomics)
  • Duty to Accommodate.

Learn more about course options and the conference here.

If you would like to be a GSU delegate to the conference, submit your expression of interest to GSU by email at gsu@gsu.ca as soon as possible. 

GSU members who sign up and are approved to participate in GSU-sanctioned events will have their time off work, wages, and expenses covered in accordance with GSU’s expense policies (child care included). GSU staff will also assist you with arranging the time off with your employer.

EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY: Prairie School for Union Women – June 10-14 at Waskesiu Lake, SK

June 10-14, 2018 – Waskesiu Lake, SK 

The Prairie School for Union Women offers trade union women an intensive four days of learning and sharing in a supportive environment. The goals of the school are to develop women’s personal and leadership skills and to build solidarity among women workers.  The school provides on-site child care and is committed to child-friendly attitudes. 

Whether you are a woman who is a long time activist or just starting to get involved in your union, this school is open to you. Enrolment for the 2018 School is limited to 150. Participants will be registered on a first-come first-served basis. 

GSU members who sign up and are approved to participate in GSU-sanctioned events – such as the Prairie School for Union Women – will have their time off work, wages, and expenses covered in accordance with GSU’s expense policies (child care included). GSU staff will also assist you with arranging the time off with your employer.

Interested in attending? Contact your GSU staff rep.

GSU vice-president Michelle Houlden recently attended the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour/Canadian Labour Spring School. This is her report.


“Many thanks to GSU for sending me to this incredible course.”


My mind is still spinning after spending a week studying labour law through the SFL/CLC spring school in Moose Jaw. It was a course I’d been wanting to take for a long time, and after going through another tough collective bargaining process, I seized the opportunity to learn more when I saw it in the list this year.

Effective representation happens on so many levels, whether you’re a new shop steward who can refer members to the right part of their contract, an executive who can attend a grievance or disciplinary hearing or on the bargaining team. At each level, we do the best job we can with the tools we have, but learning more about the laws that set out our rights and responsibilities can really help to sharpen those tools.

I learned a lot about the duty to accommodate workers when they’re dealing with mental or physical illnesses or addictions. How laws have been adapted through test cases like the SFL’s challenge to Bill 6 that eventually saw the Supreme Court decide that the right to strike is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. How the duty of fair representation must be met. And how changes to the trade union act – now the Saskatchewan Employment Act – have impacted organized labour and working people.

Many thanks to GSU for sending me to this incredible course. I think it makes me a better shop steward and union member. It makes me appreciate all the hard work GSU does to defend our rights in the workplace and I was proud to represent you in class this week. A big shout out to fellow GSU member Larry Hubich, one of the course facilitators, and our own lawyers, Ronni Nordal and Dan Leblanc, who were co-facilitators along with Crystal Norbeck. It’s a lot of material and a short time to talk about it all, and you made it fun and fascinating. Your passion for helping working people was contagious and I think we all left wanting to do more in our workplace and in our communities.

Spring school is an invaluable learning opportunity, one of many educational opportunities offered through GSU, the SFL and the CLC. If you haven’t checked out what’s available, I urge you to do so, there’s bound to be something that you’d like to learn more about.

That reminds me, if there are any young GSU workers interested in attending an upcoming young workers’ conference offered by the SFL, there’s still time to register! And don’t forget about the Prairie School for Union Women in Waskesiu, or the SFL youth camp at Watrous at the end of August for teens aged 13-17. Go to www.sfl.sk.ca/events for more information.

In solidarity,
Michelle Houlden
GSU Local 5 / GSU Vice-President

Register for the SFL/CLS Spring School – April 3 to 7, 2017 in Moose Jaw, SK

Are you interested in attending the 60th Annual SFL /CLC Spring School?

This year’s school runs April 3 to 7, 2017 at the Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa, Moose Jaw, SK.

GSU members who sign up and are approved to participate in GSU-sanctioned events will have their time off work, wages, and expenses covered in accordance with GSU’s expense policies (child care included). GSU staff will also assist you with arranging the time off with your employer.

A detailed course description and other important information are available here.

Course Outline:

  1. Labour Law
  2. Unionism on Turtle Island
  3. Mental Health in the Workplace
  4. Collective Bargaining
  5. Member Engagement – Member Action
  6. Taking Unions into the Next Generation.

Contact your GSU staff rep for more information or to register.