Alberta workers are under increasing under fire as the province takes a day off work Monday to celebrate their contribution to our communities and our economy.
"The Alberta government has just launched a secretive, behind-closed-door review of the Labour Code at the request of an anti-union lobby group," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 145,000 workers. "It has sent the lobby group's biased proposals to selected stakeholders for review and appointed an unbalanced review panel without a single voice of labour. This unfair approach cannot hope to provide a reasonable outcome. It is at attack on the labour movement and an attempt to slash the wages of working Albertans," he says.
"It is also an unfair attempt to get the government to show favouritism to non-union employers over their business competitors who use unionized labour," he says. "Is that what the Conservatives really want to stand for: reduced competition between firms, reduced choice for individuals and reduced standards of living for skilled tradespeople?"
Meanwhile, right-wing think-tanks including the Fraser Institute continue their propaganda campaign to weaken working families and unions.
"The institute's latest clap-trap report blamed the cancellation of oil-sands construction projects after 2008 on high labour costs, completely ignoring the global recession, falling oil prices and the effect of soaring infrastructure and material costs," says McGowan. "It also ignored a change in direction by the Alberta government to focus on shipping raw bitumen – and jobs – down the pipeline to the U.S., rather than on encouraging upgraders to be built here."
After more than 125 years of celebrating Labour Day in Canada, the Alberta government continues to lag behind other jurisdictions in protecting its working citizens.
"Alberta is the only province where farm workers continue to be excluded from occupational health and safety laws, as well as laws governing hours of work and overtime, statutory holidays, vacation pay, the right to refuse unsafe work and compensation if they are injured on the job. Domestic workers are also unfairly excluded from employment laws that protect other workers," he says. "Alberta is also one of only two jurisdictions in Canada that allow kids as young as 12 to hold down adult jobs."
McGowan is available for annual Labour Day comments this weekend. He will be attending the Edmonton and District Labour Council Labour Day BBQ for the unemployed and underemployed at Giovanni Caboto Park/Boys and Girls Club, 95 Street and 109 Avenue, Edmonton, 11 a.m., Monday, September 5th .
Nancy Furlong, AFL secretary treasurer, is also available for comments and will be at the Calgary Labour Day BBQ for the unemployed and underemployed at Calgary Olympic Plaza, 228 - 8 Avenue S.E., Calgary at 11 a.m., Monday, September 5th .
Gil McGowan, AFL president @ 780-218-9888 (cell)
Nancy Furlong, AFL secretary treasurer @ 780-720-8945 (cell)