Generosity for an overpaid inner circle while freezing workers' wages
Edmonton – Premier Alison Redford offered a fierce — and disingenuous — defense of high salaries for her inner circle today.
In response to questions about high salaries being paid to her chief of staff and inner circle of advisors, the Premier claimed that compensation of public sector workers in Alberta was high in general.
At the press conference in Okotoks, the premier said: "In all of our labour negotiations we continue to provide increases to public servants." A statement that is blatantly false given that just two months ago, the legislature passed Bill 46, which imposes a wage freeze on tens of thousands of government workers.
"It seems like Alison Redford is always willing to stand up for the wealthy, and is always willing to make claims that she's on the side of working people," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "But the proof is in the pudding — wage freezes, gag orders, and pension cuts are the facts that frontline workers face."
The average government wage may be higher than the average wage for workers – but as Albertans have found out this week, that average is skewed by extremely high pay for people in the premier's inner circle.
"The premier tried to suggest today that the province is paying public sector workers well. But the facts show that outside of her inner circle, that isn't the case," McGowan said.
The latest reliable Census data available — a survey of more than 92,000 public-sector workers — shows that the average government workers' wages are two per cent lower than in the private sector.
Other evidence supports this. Statistics Canada's shows that Alberta's civil servants earn an average $1,283.65 a week in November 2013, down from the previous period. The wages of workers in several other sectors' are higher, such as those in construction and utilities.
"It is important to make sure that we have high quality people who can provide effective support and services to the government of Alberta and the people of Alberta and we're not going to shy away from that," the Premier said.
"Redford says that workers deserve to be compensated, but her words are in conflict with her actions," McGowan said. "Premier Redford has undermined collective bargaining with Bill 46. At the same time, she's given massive and unjustifiable wages and wage increases to her inner-circle of political staff."
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org