Edmonton – The Redford wage freeze breaks promises and breaks laws.
The legislation, which the government tabled on Wednesday, will ignore the bargaining rights of hundreds of thousands of Albertans and impose a wage freeze. This is a government tactic that has been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.
"Alison Redford was elected on a promise that she wouldn't attack public sector workers. She's broken that promise and almost every other election promise she made just 18 months ago," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "We will see her in court and we will see her at the ballot box."
Bills 45 and 46 will take away the right of unions to consult their own membership about possible labour action. Additionally, punitive measures can be taken against a whole union for the actions – or even words – of a single member.
The wage freeze will mean that workers wages will fall behind inflation. Over the course of three years, this will mean an effective drop in wages by about six per cent. The government of Alberta forecasts the province's real GDP to expand by 3.3 per cent this year and 3.5% next year. If the economy is growing, we should be able to treat public-sector workers fairly.
Repeatedly over the past decade, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Workers have a constitutional right to make collective representations and to have their collective representations considered in good faith.
"We are simply asking the government to not break the law," McGowan said. "It's one thing for governments to obtain a wage freeze through negotiations with unions and workers, it's another thing to impose those freezes without negotiation. Such legislation is unfair, unnecessarily provocative and almost certainly unconstitutional."
The government has suggested that the wage freeze is being imposed because of the cost of the devastating floods in Calgary and High River last spring and summer.
"They're paying for the flood damage on the backs of the people who cleaned up the mess," McGowan said. "We lauded these people as heroes just a few weeks ago. And now, Alison Redford is picking their pockets."
For more information on these bills and on collective bargaining download the AFL factsheets:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
File: G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2013\2013-50_Alberta Government breaks promises – and laws – with wage freeze legislation _2013Nov28.docx
Legislating contract undermines collective bargaining
Edmonton – Legislation to impose a four-year contract on teachers is bad news for workers all over Alberta says the province's largest labour organization.
School boards throughout the province had been given an arbitrary deadline of 3 p.m. yesterday to ratify a deal that had been struck between the province and the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA), the union that represents the 40,000 teachers in the province. When two bargaining units and several school boards rejected the deal, the government responded with legislation that would force them to take the pay freeze.
"By bringing forward this legislation, they're basically saying that it didn't matter what any of those union locals and school boards said or did," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "Teachers basically didn't have a choice in whether or not to accept this contract – either they accepted it, or they would have it forced on them."
On Monday, the government announced it was tabling legislation based on a deal that had been reached between the Alberta Teachers' Association and the province. Although the deal had been ratified by 60 of Alberta's 62 school boards, one of the hold-outs was the province's largest board, the Calgary Board of Education.
"This government is taking a top-down, full-throttle, my-way-or-the-highway approach to their dealings with workers," McGowan said. "This is the same bullying approach they've taken with prison workers, and the same bullying approach they're taking with post-secondary education."
The legislation imposes a wage freeze for the first three years of the contract, and a two per cent raise in the fourth year. The legislation also includes provisions that will attempt to tackle excessive teacher hours and classroom conditions.
"Legislating the contract shows that the Redford government wasn't negotiating in good faith in the first place," McGowan said. "This decision has undermined their ability to be taken seriously at the bargaining table. Who is going to trust that they won't just resort to bargaining by fiat?"
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.