Government puts itself on “collision course” with workers
Edmonton – Today’s provincial budget is a flawed document designed around false economies and myths about public-sector workers.
During his budget speech, the Finance Minister Doug Horner argued that public-sector wages should be “competitive” with those in the private sector – completely ignoring the fact that Statistics Canada data shows that public-sector wages are statistically indistinguishable.
“As a result of this approach to budgeting, the government is putting itself on a collision course with workers,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “Public-sector workers earn on average the same as their counterparts in the private sector. But this government has workers in the crosshairs – whether it’s attacking their pensions or their wages.”
The minister took aim at pension plans during his speech, insinuating that the plans needed drastic changes to keep them as defined-benefit plans – completely ignoring the fact that independent actuaries have confirmed that the unfunded liabilities of the two largest pension plans, the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) and the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP), are shrinking, and will be paid off by 2025.
“This is a budget based on two big lies, and they’re big lies that are disrespectful to workers in health care, in education, in law enforcement and in every part of the public service,” McGowan said. “The facts are that public-sector worker compensation is on par with the private sector, and their pensions are modest, sustainable and stable.”
The budget, which includes plenty of spending on capital projects, does not have much allocated to maintaining the services that Albertans value. The Minister proudly trumpets how they’re ‘holding the line,’ on public-sector wages, ignoring how much those wages have been falling behind inflation. By comparison, wages in the private sector are going up on average three to five per cent each year.
“I’m concerned because this is a burning-bridges budget. It’s a budget that sets the stage for tension with labour, it sets the stage for employees looking for jobs elsewhere, and it sets the stage for costly court battles,” McGowan said.
“I might say that it sets the stage for labour strife, but they’ve made it illegal for me to suggest such a thing.”
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail [email protected]