On International Women’s Day, the Premier of Alberta is framing his election campaign around an attack on women’s hard-earned equality gains
Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour is marking International Women’s Day by standing up for women’s jobs and equality gains in the public sector.
The majority of Alberta’s public sector workers – those who work in health care, education, in cities and towns, seniors’ care – are women.
“The Prentice PCs are gearing up for a multi-million-dollar election campaign that targets women’s modest wage gains in the public sector,” Alberta Federation of Labour Secretary Treasurer Siobhan Vipond said. “When Jim Prentice talks about health care, education, and public service workers, he is talking about women. When Jim Prentice blames public sector workers for his government’s appalling record of tax and royalty giveaways, what he is really doing is blaming Alberta women—who earn just 63 per cent of what men earn—for his government’s reckless tax and royalty giveaways.”
An AFL analysis of public sector wage settlements in Alberta, released for International Women’s Day, showed public sector wage settlements between 2011-2014 delivered a modest 8.8 per cent of cumulative increases. The majority of the workers covered by these collective agreements were women.
By contrast, Alberta’s oil and gas sector workers saw a 17 per cent increase in their average weekly earnings between 2011-2014. Construction workers saw a 14 per cent gain. Managers of companies also saw a 17 per cent gain, while those in finance saw a 13 per cent increase in their annual earnings.
Vipond says Alberta women benefit from a wage advantage in the unionized public sector. But economy-wide, Alberta is the most unequal province in Canada. “When Alberta women look in the mirror, they see the highest levels of inequality in Canada,” Vipond said.
“The unions that represent women in the public sector have delivered pay equity, modest but reliable pensions, and health and safety protections,” Vipond said. “When we struggle for dignity and fairness in the workplace, women are the beneficiaries.”
Fifty-five per cent of Alberta’s overall unionized workforce, in both the public and private sectors, are women.
The Alberta Federation of Labour advocates that:
- Alberta remains the only jurisdiction in Canada without a voice for women in government. Alberta should establish a free-standing Status of Women ministry.
- Alberta has among the lowest number of child care spots and the highest child care fees in Canada. Public early childhood education and child care must be a priority if Alberta is to achieve better wage equality and educational outcomes for children
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell) or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org