AUPE President comments on health care support worker wildcat strike
EDMONTON – “We learned this morning that some General Support Services members employed by Alberta Health Services walked off the job in a wildcat strike,” said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Guy Smith.
“The action started at the Royal Alex hospital, but appears to be growing rapidly. It’s unfortunate AHS’s conduct at the bargaining table has provoked this, but we understand our members’ frustration and support them fully.”
A mediator’s recommendation for settlement was rejected by 95% of GSS members in a January vote. AHS returned to the bargaining table, but last week tabled a final offer lower than what was recommended by the mediator.
“Every one of these members lost something in their collective agreement when the health regions were collapsed into AHS. They’ve been trying to get some of that back in bargaining, and be treated as equals in the healthcare system,” said Smith.
“These members are mostly women, employed part-time and struggling to make ends meet. They are among the lowest paid employees in the health care system, but they are the backbone of health care and deserve to be treated better by AHS,” he added.
GSS employees fight superbugs, manage health records, prepare meals, manage finances, maintain facilities, sterilize surgical tools, assist pharmacists and therapists, provide security and much more.
Smith has committed that patient’s safety will be protected. The union is prepared to work with AHS to put measures in place so employees are available to handle emergencies and essential health services as required.
“We have no desire to put patient safety at risk and are taking steps to ensure no one is harmed as a result of this action. The wildcat will result in some delays in the health care system, but we are committed to ensuring no Albertan is harmed,” said Smith.
For more information, contact:
Guy Smith, President, AUPE, 780-930-3301 or 780-265-2294 (cellular phone)
Mark Wells, Senior Communications Advisor, AUPE – 780-930-3311 or 780-904-0688 (cel)