Alberta health care support workers presented with four per cent wage cut during collective bargaining
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) says general support services workers were presented with a four per cent wage cut by Alberta Health Services (AHS) at the bargaining table.
In a statement, the union said the four per cent wage cut was presented to the bargaining team Thursday. According to AUPE, the wage cut would be applied immediately once the agreement is ratified and that general support services staff would have three years of zero per cent wage increases.
General support services staff work in cleaning and environmental services, food services, laundry, lab work, supply chain and purchasing, long-term care, and protective services.
“It is indecent and obscene,” said Susan Slade, AUPE vice president for the south region, in a statement.
“Everyone knows Premier Kenney and Health Minister Shandro have no respect for front-line health care workers, even after everything they’ve done for us during the pandemic, and here we see AHS following their orders to add insult to injury,” Slade added.
Travis Toews, minister of finance and president of treasury board and finance, said in a statement sent Friday, that the province is thankful for Alberta’s health care support staff and all they’ve done during the pandemic.
“At a time when Alberta has $93 billion in debt, we must keep our focus on the long term fiscal health of the province, as well as the health of Albertans,” Toews said. “We must control our spending – and that includes public sector compensation.”
Toews added that the AUPE bargaining team asked AHS for a five per cent increase in salaries over the next two years, translating to $105 million to Alberta taxpayers.
“Our proposal is fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of all Albertans,” Toews said. “AHS is offering job security to employees in exchange for the one-time wage reduction. This is a fair and equitable trade.”
AHS and AUPE are scheduled to continue negotiations on Friday.
“I’m confident both parties can work together to reach a fair and equitable settlement that respects the fiscal situation of the province.”
Slade told CTV News Edmonton in an interview that general support services workers are often the lowest paid AHS employees and usually work multiple jobs since they frequently are scheduled for part-time or casual shifts.
"Asking the lowest-paid employees of the health care system to take a rollback is shameful, to begin with," she shared. "These are the people who run the hospitals.
"Myself as an LPN, I can't do my job without general support services. It's impossible. That is the backbone of the health care system."
Negotiations for general support services workers were suspended twice by AHS due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite AUPE wanting to go ahead with the bargaining process.
AHS initially proposed a one per cent wage cut in February last year. Their collective agreement expired on March 31, 2020.
The province has also proposed a three per cent wage reduction for Alberta nurses last week when it resumed collective agreement negotiations.