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Government Sidesteps Labour Board Process Aimed at Bringing Unions to Agreement on Health Care Employee Representation

Edmonton – The secret committee of ministers writing legislation to govern union representation in the new health regions raises some serious questions about what the government has in store for health care workers says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“All the health care unions have been participating in an Alberta Labour Board process dealing with this issue for over a year. Now all of a sudden the government is going to step in to tell us what is good for us,” said CUPE Alberta President Yvonne Fast.

“Until today, no one knew about this committee or its work. Yet the government is saying, through the media, that this is not a threat and is aimed at fostering better understanding between government and labour,” said Fast.

CUPE has a suggestion for the government. If they want to foster better understanding between government and labour maybe they should talk to the health care unions,” said Fast. “We really have to wonder why the government is ignoring the Alberta Labour Board process. Is this where the threat to rip up our collective agreements takes hold?” she added.

Last year the Premier’s Advisory Council on Health Care recommended that the government give itself the power to override health care workers collective agreements in order to implement reform. In January, the Alberta government announced it agreed with all of the Mazankowski recommendations.

“We are not opposed to change, but democratic process cannot be ignored. Change in the health care system needs to respect all the people involved. Coming down upon us with a big legislative stick is not the way to promote productive labour relations and smooth transition,” she said.

“Our members will certainly be looking to ensure that our collective agreements are honoured and that all of their legally negotiated rights are respected in any legislation the government comes up with,” she concluded.

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CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPE’s 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and cupealberta.ab.ca.

For further information:
Pam Beattie CUPE Communications
(780) 288-1230 (cellular)