Government needs to get its priorities straight when it comes to resolving prison strikes

AFL urges premier to address health and safety concerns of workers so situation can be resolved

Edmonton – Alberta’s largest labour group, representing 160,000 workers, is urging the premier to negotiate in good faith with striking prison workers.

In a statement released today, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) said that the wildcat strike at Alberta’s prisons was spinning out of control because of the government’s intransigence toward legitimate worker concerns.

“The government needs to stop focusing on bullying workers and start focusing on their legitimate concerns about health and safety,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “If they do that, this situation will be resolved.”

The Federation expressed solidarity with the workers at the new $580-million Remand Centre, who have been raising health and safety concerns for several months leading up to the strike. What started as a walkout by 70 workers has escalated with strikes at 10 provincial facilities, and hundreds of workers multiple unions staying out of the prisons due to deteriorating conditions, and out-of-control inmates.

“Quite frankly, the deputy premier shouldn’t be grandstanding about how he won’t negotiate,” McGowan said. “It’s not productive, it’s not going to resolve this issue, and it’s not in the public interest.”

At noon on Saturday, more than 500 Alberta Federation of Labour members representing 29 affiliated unions marched on the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) in an impromptu demonstration of solidarity with the prison workers.

“These workers did the brave thing, the right thing for demanding a safe workplace,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “And the government has responded by trying to silence them, telling them to put themselves in unnecessary risk, and telling them it’s not even something they’re willing to talk about.”

Letter to Deputy Premier Lukaszuk

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email orokne@afl.org.


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