Statement from AFL president Gil McGowan on new UCP farm workers bill
EDMONTON - Bill 26 is a giant step backwards for farm, ranch and agriculture workers in Alberta. They are back to no longer having the basic workplace rights enjoyed by their counterparts in every other Canadian province. In fact, this bill goes beyond repealing the workplace protections put in place under the previous government. It takes Alberta even further backwards by adding more exempted workers in new industries such as greenhouses and mushroom farms, which were previously covered by workplace legislation even before Bill 6.
Bill 26 will make farm and ranch workplaces less safe. Removing mandatory Workers Compensation coverage sets a horrible precedent. Albertans will no longer be able to track farm and ranch injury rates for the province and farms with private insurance will be at risk for lawsuits.
All workers on farms and ranch workers will be exempt from the Labour Relations Code, stripping away their fundamental right to collectively bargain and form a union. At the same time, all temporary workers will now be exempt from the very basic employment standards protections that other workers in Alberta have. This denial of basic rights is unacceptable.
Ultimately, the debate on this heartless and vengeful piece of legislation should be focused, not on employers or owner-operators, but on the workers themselves. Paid agricultural workers are a group of workers in Alberta who were, until very recently, denied their basic rights. Now, only months after having won them after years of struggle, they are having those rights stripped away again by an anti-worker government.
The Minister responsible for this miserable bill should be singled out for particular criticism. With his enthusiastic cheerleading of stripping rights and protections from some of our most vulnerable and long-suffering fellow citizens, he has proven his many critics right. He is no friend of ordinary working Albertans. Instead, he is nothing more than a Trump-loving, worker-hating, proto-authoritarian servant of employers. This guy is on someone’s side: but if you’re a working person, it’s not yours. All of this is shameful, shameful.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour
(780) 218-9888 or firstname.lastname@example.org