'Hammer' looms over AUPE labour negotiations
Bill 46 allows Alberta to impose contract on provincial employees next week
New labour legislation is looming over negotiations between the provincial government and its unionized workers.
Bill 46 kicks in one week from today which means the province can impose a settlement without going to arbitration.
But the union says it will not succumb to pressure.
"We're not going to sign a deal that doesn't meet the needs of our members," said Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. "If they've got good arguments, take it to an arbitration board. Let an independent third party decide on it instead of imposing through legislation."
Deputy Premier Dave Hancock is confident a negotiated contract is still possible, though there are no new talks scheduled
"We're prepared to come to be flexible," he said. "There's an opportunity to make a deal here and we would like to have a negotiated deal rather than a legislated one, but we do have also parameters in place that we need to meet."
The province has said there is little money for wage increases or improved benefits.
Smith said there would have to be significant change in what the province has to offer to get the union back to bargaining.
"If they're not willing to do that, then I guess they have their hammer called Bill 46 that they can bring down if they so choose."