LETHBRIDGE – An essential services agreement (ESA) reached between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and the University of Lethbridge last week is the first of its kind in Alberta and will govern the terms of a lockout or strike in the event one should occur at the southern post-secondary institution.
The agreement between the union and employer was mandated under the province’s Bill 4, An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing Essential Services, which reversed the ban on strikes for most public sector workers and ensures the most essential services are not interrupted in the case of job action.
“We’re pleased an ESA was reached both sides find acceptable,” said AUPE president Guy Smith. “The parties began initial discussions in late May and the cooperative approach from both negotiations teams helped achieve this agreement.
“The ESA ensures the minimal amount of ‘essential’ staff required to keep the facility operating safely will remain on the job if there is job action. The term ‘essential’ is connected to the service and not the worker providing that service,” added Smith.
The University of Lethbridge also recognized the importance of having an essential services agreement in place to ensure that tasks critical to ensuring the safety and viability of the institution continue in the event of a lockout or strike.
“The University of Lethbridge Board is pleased to have worked with AUPE on this important agreement and also wishes to express appreciation for the cooperative nature of the process,” says Nancy Walker, University of Lethbridge vice-president of finance and administration.
When Bill 4 was passed in May 2016, it modernized Alberta’s labour laws and leveled the playing field for workers in the province by ensuring they could exercise their fundamental right to strike in the case of a bargaining dispute.
The bill provides Alberta’s workers with the same rights other workers in Canada have been able to exercise for some time.
AUPE represents approximately 500 support, technical and maintenance staff at the University of Lethbridge and more than 11,000 non-academic staff at 16 universities, colleges and technical institutes province-wide.
For more information:
Guy Smith, AUPE president: 780-265-2294
Tyler Bedford, AUPE senior communications officer: 780-930-3406
Trevor Kenney, News & Information Manager, University of Lethbridge: 403-329-2710 or 403-360-7639 (cell)