Statement from Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan:
Jason Kenney and the UCP have broken faith with the thousands and thousands of public-sector Albertans who helped elect them.
During the election campaign, they promised that front-line public sector workers would not lose their jobs. They also never mentioned public-sector wage cuts.
But today, it’s clear that Premier Kenney and his UCP cohorts lied on both counts. As a result, their electoral mandate is tainted.
Contrary to the promises made by the UCP during the election, when the Kenney government’s first budget was tabled last Thursday, it revealed that thousands of public sector positions will, indeed, be eliminated. The budget also made it clear that the UCP’s $4.7 billion tax cut for profitable corporations will NOT be self-financing, as promised: instead, Albertans will pay for the corporate tax giveaways in the form of lost services, lost jobs and lost wages.
With the Finance Minister’s announcement today that he intends to cut wages by as much as five percent – even though most public-sector workers had already voluntarily agreed to wages freezes for the past two years – the UCP is continuing their practice of misrepresenting the facts.
For example, the Minister says wages cuts are justified because public sector workers need to “share the pain” recently experienced by private sector workers.
But the truth is that average wages in Alberta’s private sector are still significantly higher than average wages in the public sector.
It’s also important to note that public sector wages in Alberta did NOT increase at nearly the same rate as private sector wages during the long boom that preceded the oil price crash in 2014. So, public sector workers are being asked to “share the pain” when they did NOT “share the gain.”
The Minister is also playing fast and loose with the facts when he justified wage cuts by saying that Alberta public sector workers make more than their counterparts in other provinces. The fact is that ALL Alberta workers make more than their counterparts in other provinces – and the Alberta Wage Advantage is much larger for private sector workers than public sector workers.
Specifically, on average, Alberta public sector workers make $3.17 more per hour than their counterparts in other provinces. But Alberta’s private sector workers make $4.69 per hour more than their counterparts in other provinces.
What the Minister is saying is that Alberta public sector workers should give up the Alberta wage advantage while Alberta private sector workers should get to keep it. This kind of double standard is not what the UCP promised Alberta voters during the election campaign. Alberta’s public sector workers will not sit idly by as the new government uses lies and misinformation to launch an assault on their jobs and their standard of living.
Ramona Franson, AFL Director of Communications