In a letter to the Prime Minister, the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour urges him to order federal government negotiators back to the table with a "substantially more reasonable offer" for striking PSAC workers. Escalation of strike action by government employees prompted the AFL President to place pressure on the government.
"The government needs to make a move," says Audrey Cormack. "Federal employees have faced a decade of lay-offs and deficit-cutting. They have gone nine years without a pay increase."
"The government's excuses have evaporated with the deficit. The time has come to reward federal employees for their sacrifices."
Over 1,200 federal workers in Alberta, all members of PSAC, are escalating strike action around the province. Talks have broken down, despite efforts from union officials to keep them going. Picket lines are now up 24 hours a day in front of Canada Place in Edmonton. Prison workers are also expected to escalate their walk out in the next few days.
Cormack's letter hopes to be the first blast in that wake up call. "The Prime Minister is ultimately responsible and has the power to order his negotiators back to the table with a better offer."
"So far all he has ordered is more pepper spray," adds Cormack in reference to the pepper spraying of PSAC strikers last week in Ottawa.
Cormack also points out a glaring double standard in federal government employee relations.
"Senior managers recently received a 30% pay increase for their trouble. However, the men and women who actually do the work have to fight for pennies," notes Cormack. "It is an insult."
Because of the lack of wage increases, federal workers have fallen far behind their private sector counterparts. For example, a pipefitter working for the federal government now makes $8 to $10 an hour less than a private sector pipefitter. There are also gross discrepancies in wages from region to region.
"This is a strike about equity. Equity across regions. Equity across gender. Equity across sectors," adds Cormack. I think that is a fight worth supporting."