Draconian and punitive dues suspension is of concern to workers across Alberta
Edmonton – Elected labour leaders representing more than 160,000 workers throughout Alberta are worried about the implications of draconian punitive measures being taken against the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
The presidents of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 (UFCW 401) and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) spoke out against the punitive measures being taken against the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. After a four-day-long wildcat strike, the union agreed to pay $450,000 in fines, only to have additional punitive measures brought forward by the province. The province announced on Wednesday that they would have AUPE’s dues withheld as a result of the strike.
“Every crisis presents opportunities and this situation is no different. The government could have addressed the workers’ legitimate safety concerns in a timely and balanced manner. This would have improved the important relationship between a government and these workers,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “But that opportunity has been squandered by threats, intimidation and now specter of punitive measures against the union. As a result, labour relations are worse now than they were before the strike.”
The labour leaders expressed their support of the worker’s health and safety concerns that led to the strike, and the importance of protecting a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work. The unions announced plans to create a fund to help AUPE pay the onerous financial burden of having their members’ dues withheld.
“Going after the entire union’s dues are unwise if the government wants to maintain a good relationship with its workers,” McGowan said “It creates a disincentive for a quick and reasonable resolution of conflicts. If the resolution of these kinds of job action results in punishment, then they’ll never get resolved because it will only mean more fines and more hostility.”-30-
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email email@example.com.