Finance Minister Travis Toews (The Canadian Press)

Opening proposal: Alberta wants 24,000 government staff to take pay cut

The 24,000 employees also include administration and support staff as well as conservation workers

Alberta is asking about 24,000 government staff, including sheriffs and social workers, to take a pay cut in their next contract — something their union says is being done out of spite.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says the province’s opening proposal is for a one per cent wage cut in the first year followed by a three-year wage freeze.

The workers were awarded a one per cent pay increase in arbitration a week ago under current agreements.

“This is an act of revenge, not a rational argument,” AUPE president Guy Smith said Friday in a statement.

“An independent arbitrator ruled only last week that (these government) workers deserved a one per cent raise and that there was no economic justification to cut pay.

“Yet here we see the government punishing us for getting that minimal raise by seeking to take it away immediately.”

The 24,000 employees also include administration and support staff as well as conservation workers.

Their current contract expires March 31.

The union says the United Conservative government also is seeking rollbacks on the salary grid and cuts to overtime and other premium pay provisions.

The union is seeking wage increases of 2.5 per cent per year to keep pace with inflation.

Finance Minister Travis Toews said hard choices must be made.

“The proposal aligns with government’s commitment to Albertans to correct Alberta’s overspending problem so available tax dollars can be reinvested into high-quality services,” Toews said in a statement.

“Public-sector wages account for more than half of government expenses. The facts are clear across many occupations in the public service: wages are significantly higher than those in other large provinces.

“Workers also enjoy compensation benefits that are not found in, or significantly more generous than, contracts in other provinces.”

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley noted the arbitration award was the product of an independent assessment.

“The government’s attempt to claw that back now goes around the independence and the fairness of the arbitration process.”

Toews said last week that the one per cent boost awarded by the arbitrator will cost the province $35 million, so the government will have to save money elsewhere to make up for the raises. He said that could include potential job losses.

In November, the government sent a letter to the AUPE that said union jobs would be guaranteed until the end of March, but the government would use all options available to meet its priorities after that.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Employment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

11-year-old Sylvan Lake burn survivor using his story to inspire others

Kaden Howard was recently named the 2020 Champion Child for the Stollery in Edmonton

Sylvan Lake woman injured during ambulance transport

Judy Gallagher, 68, was injured after the stretcher she was strapped to tipped during transportation

Changes made to Eckville’s dry camping policy

There will now be a $10 per night fee to dry camp during events such as the rodeo and jamborees

Sylvan Lakers heading to North American Indigenous Games

A coach and four players will be taking the trip to Halifax, N.S. in July to compete in lacrosse

Sylvan Lake welcomes two new doctors

Dr’s Biana Manchik and Andrew Schwartz are the two new doctors practicing at Sylvan Medical Center

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

Alberta government asks court to stay judge’s order regarding oilsands decision

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Barbara Romaine gave Alberta 10 days to make a decision on the Rigel projec

Alberta must juggle sluggish economy, big deficits, lost jobs in upcoming budget

Premier Jason Kenney won last spring’s election on a promise to boost jobs, grow the economy

Calgary father convicted in toddler’s death from staph infection granted parole

Court heard that John was never seen by a doctor until the day before he died in November 2013

Premier, health minister announces first phase of Red Deer Hospital expansion

Alberta government is committing $100 million to begin expansion

Kenney warns cancelled energy projects stand in the way of Indigenous prosperity

Woodland Cree First Nation in northwest Alberta will receive a $187,688 grant

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Most Read