Edmonton

Alberta government seeks 1% wage rollback from its 24,000 unionized employees

The Alberta government wants nearly 24,000 government employees to accept a one per cent wage rollback in the first year of a four-year collective agreement, followed by three years of wage freezes.

Four-year contract proposes pay cut followed by three years of wage freezes

AUPE president Guy Smith said the government's proposal is a reaction to an arbitrator's ruling, which last week awarded most government employees a one per cent wage increase retroactive to April 1, 2019. (Emilio Avalos/Radio-Canada)

The Alberta government wants nearly 24,000 government employees to accept a one per cent wage rollback in the first year of a four-year collective agreement, followed by three years of wage freezes. 

The proposal from the government was presented Thursday on the first day of collective bargaining for 23,578 public service members represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). 

Those public service members include general government employees, correctional officers, fish and wildlife officers and social workers. 

AUPE shared the proposal on its website Thursday evening.

AUPE president Guy Smith said the government was punishing workers after an independent arbitrator last week awarded AUPE members a one per cent wage increase, retroactive to April 1, 2019.

"This is an act of revenge, not a rational argument," Smith said in the AUPE update. 

The government said the arbitration ruling will cost $35 million and will further challenge the government as it works to cut spending, and warned it would have to look at other cost savings to make up for the raises.

According to AUPE, the government wants to move a range of jobs into a lower-paying classification, reduce the flexible spending account and cut some overtime pay. 

AUPE said the government proposal eliminates job security provisions and makes it easier for the government to move work done by the public sector to private contractors.

The government says there is no additional money to pay for wage increases.

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews sent a news release that praised the proposal by the Public Service Commission.  Toews called the offer to AUPE "a common-sense proposal that prioritizes service delivery over salary increases." 

The AUPE proposal asks for a two-year agreement with a 2.5 per cent pay increase in each year to match cost-of-living increases.

The proposal also asks for continued job-security provisions and a prohibition on contracting out work done by union members.

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