Edmonton

Labour board to hear UNA arbitration delay complaint on May 31

The Alberta Labour Relations Board will hear a complaint from the United Nurses of Alberta about a delay in wage arbitration talks prompted by government intervention last week. 

Government asked for postponement of arbitration hearing

Finance Minister Travis Toews, shown here with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, confirmed the government asked for a delay in a wage arbitration hearing for Alberta nurses. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press )

The Alberta Labour Relations Board will hear a complaint from the United Nurses of Alberta about a delay in wage arbitration talks prompted by government intervention last week. 

The hearing will be held on May 31. Alberta Health Services has to file a response by May 24.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Travis Toews confirmed that the government had asked AHS to postpone an arbitration hearing on the reopening of wage talks, which was a provision in the final year of the current three-year contract with 30,000 nurses. 

The new United Conservative Party government is seeking input into Alberta finances from a panel, as well as holding its own talks with public service unions.

Toews called the move responsible in light of the government's review. The union is alleging government interference in workers' collective bargaining rights. They believe the delay is a precursor to wage rollbacks. 

The UNA's current three-year contract expires on March 31, 2020. The agreement has wage freezes for the first two years and a provision to revisit pay increases in the final year.

Talks to resolve the wage issue ended in stalemate, so an arbitrator was appointed.

Prior to the hearing, AHS asked for a postponement at the request of the government. The arbitrator agreed.

Under the current contract, an arbitration hearing was supposed to take place by the end of June.