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B.C. public sector bargaining model will hurt Alberta, prof says

Albertans will regret moving to British Columbia’s model of working out contracts with nurses, teachers and other public sector workers, warns a B.C. political science professor.

Deal to adopt B.C. model already done, labour expert says

Premier Jim Prentice is looking to B.C. to reduce public sector wages (CBC)

Albertans will regret moving to British Columbia’s model of working out contracts with nurses, teachers and other public sector workers, warns a B.C. political science professor.

“Frankly I do not think this government in B.C. and what they're doing around labour issues is any model at all for anywhere else unless you want to see people have fewer protections and much lower wages,” says Marjorie Griffin Cohen at Simon Fraser University.

Premier Jim Prentice says Alberta must be more disciplined in its approach to negotiating public sector contracts and is looking to B.C. where for the last two decades a tribunal the Public Sector Employers’ Council negotiates contracts for all public sector unions.

The tribunal reports directly to the Finance Ministry.

Adopting the model means the premier wants to go after average workers, said Griffen Cohen.

“If Albertans want to have that and they want to have wages that are less than in the rest of the country then I guess they'll approve of what their premier does, but it's not good for people., 

Despite the premier saying the model is only one of many being looked at, the deal is already done, said Athabasca University's Jason Foster, an expert in labour relations.

“This is no trial balloon. This is something the premier has contemplated and the premier basically has made a decision.”

This week, Prentice announced a working group headed by Alberta Justice deputy minister Tim Grant will examine ways to better negotiate contracts.

Grant is expected to report back by the end of June.

   

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