Union says strike action is on the table if negotiations break down
EDMONTON – We will not let the UCP sell off 9,700 general support services (GSS) jobs and eliminate 800 clinical positions without a fight, say over 35,000 Alberta Health Services (AHS) members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
AUPE President Guy Smith will be holding a press conference on the issue at 11:30 am at 10451 170 st., Edmonton. All media are invited to attend.
Today (Tuesday, Oct. 13), Health Minister Shandro confirmed his duplicitous plans to cut more jobs after promising to create more. The UCP is downgrading Alberta’s public health-care system by forcing already over-worked staff to do more with less. The job cuts for nursing care staff and doctors, and the mass privatization ploy, are all recommendations from the government’s $2-million Ernst & Young report, which it commissioned back in 2019 to help them find ways to cut corners in AHS.
“Now that we know exactly what the damage is, we can keep prepping ourselves for the biggest fight of our lives,” says Smith. “Our AHS members are already fighting for strong contract language to stop the sell-off of housekeeping, food services and laundry jobs. We plan on winning this protection, but if we do not, strike action is on the table.”
While the Jason Kenney government promised to create jobs in Alberta, Smith says it’s actually “a job-destroying government. This brutal attack on jobs is going to hurt working Albertans and small communities across the province. This government kicks Albertans when they're down, exploiting a pandemic that they're failing to manage by killing jobs and endangering health care at the exact moment we need it most.”
Smith adds: “It’s disingenuous for the Minister to say privatization won’t result in ‘net reductions’ and only a ‘change of employer,’ because we know the first thing private and for-profit companies do when they snatch up our jobs is cut wages, pensions and benefits for hardworking staff. And everyday Albertans are the ones who pay the price – the patients, seniors and people with disabilities who are at the receiving end of a downgraded service.”
Private companies will often resort to layoffs early in their contracts with government to boost their bottom-line. Staff end up working short, run off their feet by demanding bosses who go after our first line of defense: union protections.
Rotting food, dirty linens, viral outbreaks, dangerous lab mix-ups: all are cited as a result of privatization in GSS across the globe. The media has also already confirmed Alberta patients will be paying more out-of-pocket for items like crutches and casts too.
“There are no ‘savings’ in this botched plan,” says Smith. “All I see are businesses profiting off the pain of patients and care-centre residents.”
AUPE’s LPNs and health-care aides (HCAs) will also be impacted by Shandro’s attack on the public care system, after he confirmed over 800 clinical AHS jobs will be eliminated through attrition, meaning even more short-staffed floors and longer wait times in the near future.
“Is this really how the UCP are repaying frontline health-care workers after they risked their health and well-being to care for us through this pandemic, when we need them most?” adds Smith. “This is pathetic, and we’re not going to let it happen.”