NOTE: AFL President Gil McGowan will be holding a media availability at 5:15 p.m. on the steps of the Legislature to comment on the Bill.
The Alberta Federation of Labour responded today to the tabling of Bill 26: the Labour Relations Amendment Act, by declaring it a frontal attack on the basic rights of Alberta workers.
"This is what Conservatives do - squeeze workers for the benefit of employers," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The Conservatives have long been anti-labour and this bill is their latest attempt to kick workers in the shins. They are simply using their new majority to exercise their anti-worker reflexes."
The bill restricts the ability of construction workers to join a union, strips ambulance workers of their right to strike and bans negotiated funds to bolster construction bids.
"This bill is intended to make it almost impossible for construction workers to express their democratic right to join a union by imposing unnecessary waiting and reconsideration periods," says McGowan. "They are being told their constitutional right to associate doesn't apply in Alberta."
McGowan says this kind of outrageous action is to be expected from this government. "Every time the Tories amend the Code, they make it worse. The last changes in 1988 made the Alberta Code the worst in the country. These changes make it even worse."
It is during boom times that workers are more likely to exert their rights to join a union, McGowan points out, because unions help workers get a fair share of the economic boom. "This bill is timed to prevent workers improving their working conditions during the boom. It is intended to keep workers' wages down."
"The problem of compulsory arbitration for ambulance workers is that it gives employers a free ticket to not negotiate in good faith," notes McGowan. "The union can't use the threat of a strike as a tool for getting a fair deal."
"Alberta is continuing its dubious distinction of being the most anti-worker jurisdiction in the country. During a boom when labour is in high demand, it is an odd message to be sending," concludes McGowan.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.483-3021 (office) or 780.218-9888 (cell)