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

Sylvan Lake welcomes two new doctors

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

Second catholic elementary school years away for Sylvan Lake

A request has been put in for two portables for École Our Lady of the Rosary’s population growth

Sylvan Lake Wranglers lead series with two overtime wins

The Wranglers are playing the Red Deer Vipers in the division semi-finals of the HJHL

Sylvan Lake businesses satisfied working in town, survey

The Chamber surveyed 100 local businesses and found 82 per cent are satisfied working in Sylvan Lake

VIDEO: Province’s top court sides with Alberta on federal carbon tax

Today’s decision is the first to side with a province against the federal government

Father and two children, from Southern Alberta, killed in fatal crash in B.C.

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Two goals by Ben King pushes Rebels over Tri-city

7-5 game a high-scoring, runaway according to Rebels forward Chris Douglas

Most Read