Kenney government trying to bypass both arbitration and bargaining, says AFL
EDMONTON – Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, is much more draconian than the UCP has led Albertans to believe, says the Alberta Federation of Labour.
“Jason Kenney and his ministers have said that this Bill is merely about postponing process, but a careful reading of the proposed legislation shows that the UCP is attempting to give themselves unprecedented backdoor powers that would allow them to unilaterally impose wage cuts on more than 180,000 public-sector workers without arbitration or negotiation,” says AFL president Gil McGowan.
“Collective bargaining is a constitutionally protected right. But, Bill 9, if passed in its current form, would allow the UCP to use regulations passed by the cabinet to impose wage cuts. This could be done behind closed doors without even debating it in the Legislature. This is why we call Bill 9 a ‘bully bill’.”
McGowan points to section 5(c) of the Bill:
The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations…respecting any other matter that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable for carrying out the intent of this Act.
This section would allow the government to make regulations on anything it deems necessary to fulfill the intent of the Act, including imposing contracts without negotiation.
“If the UCP was only interested in postponing arbitration, there would be no need for them to give themselves sweeping powers to make regulations related to the Act,” says McGowan.
“To be clear, this Bill is not acceptable to the labour movement in any shape or form. But if the government wants to reassure public-sector workers that this is really only about ‘postponing process’, then they should be willing to remove the offending clause. If they refuse to do that, then we’ll know that their reassurances are hollow and that they have something much more sinister up their sleeves. There’s really no other explanation why such a powerful clause would be included in the Bill.”
“I’ll be formally asking the Premier, the Finance Minister and the Labour Minister for a clearer accounting of their intentions,” concluded McGowan. “In the meantime, I join tens of thousands of Alberta public-sector workers in calling on this government to send Bill 9 to the shredder, where it belongs, and get back to the bargaining table.”
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