Unions protest new Alberta labour bills
About 500 people gathered at the steps of the Alberta legislature on Thursday to protest against two new government bills that they say are undemocratic.
Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, was joined on the steps by opposition leaders and MLAs, as the crowd waved flags and chanted "Kill the bills" and "Shame."
“This government, your employer, shows absolutely no respect to you at all,” Smith said. “It’s a shame.”
Bill 45 would allow the government to fine unions $1 million each day they are off the job during a wildcat strike.
Under Bill 46, the government could impose a settlement on AUPE members if a deal isn’t reached by Jan. 31, 2014.
"These bills are offensive, they're heavy handed, they're very undemocratic,” Liberal leader Raj Sherman said. “The last I checked Alberta was a democratic province."
The government defends Bill 45 as a way to keep taxpayers from having to bear the costs of wildcat strikes. But Smith says the measure would bankrupt unions and take away an avenue of dissent.
“If a government is out of control sometimes it's necessary to take illegal action if it's to bring a government in line,” he said.
The bills will be debated in the legislature on Monday.