The AFL reacted to the government announcement of a Public Emergency Tribunal in the Edmonton paramedic dispute by denouncing it as an act of a "two bit dictator". The move sweeps away the ambulance workers' rights without respect to process or to the legal right to strike.
"This government is acting like a two-bit dictator," says AFL President Les Steel. "When rights become inconvenient, they act single-handedly to sweep away those rights. This sounds like something a third world dictator would do."
Steel notes that under the Labour Relations Code, paramedics and ambulance workers have the right to strike. By imposing a settlement if one is not found in the next 30 days, the government is overturning this legal right without going through the appropriate legislative process. "It is legislation by decree, which I thought was outlawed in this country."
"Why is the government picking on the workers? Why is it not ordering the City to bargain fairly and find a settlement?" Steel asks.
"There is no public emergency here," Steel added. "This is a transparent excuse to strip away the right to strike from ambulance workers. There is no justification for a Tribunal and forced arbitration." Steel states the government has not adequately proven the existence of an emergency. "The City had contingency plans. Hospitals are still operating at full speed."
"The best way to prevent disruption is to ensure both sides are serious about finding a settlement. Today's action by the Minister makes that less likely, as the City now has no reason to bargain."
"The province has inappropriately taken sides in this dispute. By stripping away the right to strike, it puts the workers into a no-win situation." Steel points out that the City now has nothing forcing it to bargain fairly. If it waits 30 days, the province will come up with a settlement for it.
"If the Minister is capable of sweeping away the right to strike for these workers, who is next? Who is next to arbitrarily lose their rights to this government?" Steel concluded.
For more information call:
Les Steel, President @ 499-4135 (cell) or 483-3021 (wk)