This is reward for workers who kept government running during pandemic
EDMONTON – The government of Alberta is once again showing its contempt for workers with its new attempt to slash the wages of public-service workers, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“Albertans have been relying on these workers more than ever during the economic crisis caused by the collapse of oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Kevin Barry, vice-president of AUPE, which represents more than 90,000 workers, including about 22,000 employed directly by the government.
“AUPE members are making sure Albertans who are struggling get the help they need. They provide social supports and access to income supports. They keep us safe in their work as peace officers and they are risking their lives from exposure to the COVID-19 virus in correctional and remand centres,” he says. “Our members have literally kept government running during this crisis, but the UCP rewards them by attacking them.”
AUPE’s Government Services Bargaining Committee (GSBC) met the employer’s negotiating team yesterday (Thursday, Nov. 5) and was told that the employer had changed its original incoming proposals of a one per-cent cut in year one, followed by three years of zeroes.
The government is now seeking an across-the-board cut of four per cent. Blaming “market adjustment” the government has also proposed further cuts of about three per cent for some members and is reviewing other members for similar cuts, including members who have been assigned to take on emergency police powers in rural areas as part of the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence (RAPID) Force.
“We are not surprised, because this anti-worker approach is typical. We will continue to fight this at the bargaining table,” says Barry. AUPE is considering whether to file a bad-faith bargaining complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
“The government is proceeding with and even speeded up its failed tax giveaway to already profitable corporations at a cost of nearly $5 billion. Now, to pay for the failure of that program to create the jobs Premier Jason Kenney promised, he’s making working Albertans pay,” says Barry. “Nearly 1,000 government workers and 11,000 health-care workers are paying for this government’s failure with their jobs,” says the AUPE vice-president.
“Yesterday, the government introduced legislation that punishes workers who get hurt on the job and erases worker protections. On Nov. 1, rules came into effect that allow employers not to pay overtime that workers have earned, he says. “It is becoming clearer every day that this government does not work for Albertans. It works only for big corporations.”
Kevin Barry is available for comment. For more information, contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, 403-831-4394.