Alberta’s UCP government rammed Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, through the Legislature early this morning (Thursday, June 20) after cutting off debate and refusing to listen to the Opposition MLAs.
It is very clear that the government is bound and determined to prevent the wage re-opener arbitration hearings, scheduled for Friday (June 21) and Saturday (June 22) to proceed.
This denies tens of thousands of AUPE members their legally binding negotiated rights to have an independent arbitrator make a decision on their wage increases.
Furthermore, after initially claiming that this move to break contracts was just a delay in arbitrations, Finance Minister Travis Toews changed his tune and refused to promise that the arbitrations would actually take place at all. While he said the government intends to allow arbitration hearings after October 31, when asked by reporters to confirm that arbitrations would happen, he refused to comment.
It is now clear that Bill 9 may not just be a tactic to delay arbitrations, but possibly to cancel them. It is the first step in the government’s plan to freeze or cut wages.
An independent arbitrator would listen to arguments from both sides, would consider the province’s financial state, the wages of workers compared to others, the cost of living and other factors. The arbitrator would then make a fair deal based on facts.
The government doesn’t want wages to be based on facts, but on its ideological view that workers should get wage cuts while large, profitable corporations get tax cuts.
AUPE will fight this attack on workers’ wages and workers’ rights. To find out how, visit this page for all updates.