AFL and unions next in line for bargaining say a task force on public-sector labour relations is needed to rebuild trust
EDMONTON – The leaders of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and three of the unions that are next in line to negotiate with the provincial government have asked Premier Redford to suspend debate on Bills 45 and 46 in order to avoid a “generation of poisoned labour relations” in the public sector.
In a letter sent to the premier this morning, the presidents of the AFL, the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) called on Premier Redford to reconsider Bills 45 and 46 because the unions believe they are “ill-considered, uncalled for, unnecessarily provocative and likely unconstitutional.”
The presidents suggested that, if debate on Bills 45 and 46 is suspended, a special task force on the public-sector labour relations could be established to discuss issues of concerns to both sides.
“The government is concerned about controlling costs and avoiding labour disruptions,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “We’re concerned about under-staffing, attacks on pensions and a broken revenue system that is unnecessarily impoverishing public services in an otherwise wealthy province. Surely, we can address these issues respectfully without launching a war against public sector workers.”
The presidents who signed the letter include Gil McGowan from the AFL, Heather Smith from UNA, Elisabeth Ballermann from HSAA and Marle Roberts from CUPE. They are asking for a meeting with the Premier today.
“Civilized negotiation is always preferable to confrontation,” McGowan said. “We stand ready to meet with the Premier today. But, if the government rams Bills 45 and 46 through, we’ll see that as a clear message from the premier about what kind of labour relations climate she wants to create in this province. Let’s hope that she chooses civility over confrontation.”
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour