Hearing into controversial labour law in Alberta delayed 1 day by travel problems - InfoNews

Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy
0.7°C

Hearing into controversial labour law in Alberta delayed 1 day by travel problems

January 07, 2014 - 4:23 PM

EDMONTON - A hearing to deal with a labour law that imposes a contract on Alberta government employees will start one day late.

The Alberta Labour Board hearing was to begin Tuesday to deal with the Public Service Salary Restraint Act, which came into force on Dec. 11.

The union representing 22,000 government workers, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, claims the law is an unfair labour practice because it takes away the union's right to arbitration.

The act also imposes a four-year contract with frozen wages in the first two years, followed by one per cent hikes in each of the following two.

The bill returns the right of arbitration after this contract is settled and stipulates the imposed deal only kicks in if both sides can't reach an agreement by Jan. 31.

The hearing is expected to begin Wednesday.

The union wanted to subpoena Premier Alison Redford, Deputy Premier Dave Hancock and Finance Minister Doug Horner to testify but the board rejected the subpoenas after government lawyers argued that the politicians had “parliamentary privilege.”

“As the board ruled they can’t be compelled to attend but they can be certainly voluntarily attend, and I would imagine that being this is a government of openness and transparency that they would want to defend themselves against our complaint of bad faith bargaining,” said AUPE president Guy Smith.

“The fact that they’re not showing up should be of concern to Albertans.”

Smith says it would have given the government a chance to defend its policy.

“This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation this government has brought forward. Obviously it’s being questioned by us through the Alberta Labour Relations Board and I would think it would be incumbent upon the premier to basically defend her position on this but as we’ve seen they’re refusing to attend.”

Provincial law prevents the AUPE from striking, so former Tory premier Peter Lougheed gave the union the right to binding arbitration in 1977.

A second law, the Public Sector Services Continuation Act, was given royal assent on Dec. 11, but is not in force until it is proclaimed.

It introduces steep six-figure fines on unions that engage in illegal strikes or even speak publicly about such a walkout.

The government said this is in response to a wildcat walkout of prison guards and other security staff in the spring of 2013, which forced the province to scramble to keep prisons safe and courthouses operating.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
  • Pier 1 closing all of its stores in Canada
    Pier 1 Imports, Inc. announced today that it has entered into bankruptcy protection and is pursuing a sale. The retailer  commenced voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. Bankrupt
  • Vernon's Atlantis waterpark gets a new name
    A popular Vernon waterpark is starting its transformation with a new name. Formerly known as Atlantis Waterslides, the waterpark, located north of the city along Highway 97, has been renamed
  • Killing of 7-year-old girl stokes anger in Mexico
    MEXICO CITY - The killing of a 7-year-old girl on the southern outskirts of Mexico City has stoked rising anger over brutal slayings of women, including one found stabbed to death and skinned earl
  • Mammoth's tooth found in Williams Lake and preserved for decades by B.C. family
    What was once part of a mammoth-sized smile now is a very old conversation starter in Bryan Johnson's Vancouver home. Johnson's stepfather found a mammoth tooth in a creek at the sou
  • Vernon family captures mesmerizing melting ice
    A Vernon family was on their way home from Kelowna when they made a pit stop after noticing a beautiful scene along Wood Lake. Matthew Royal and his daughters noticed how “cool”
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile