Care Centre workers rally for higher wages
Published Saturday, March 10, 2012 5:15PM MST
Despite intervention from the provincial government employees of the Hardisty Care Centre held a strike Saturday afternoon.
Alberta's Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) president, Guy Smith, said that despite the issue being referred to a Disputes Inquiry Board the workers had earned the right to strike.
"These workers are frustrated. They have been through mediation, long negotiations; they took the legal right to strike. They were ready to go and the government intervened."
Smith said the major issue was wage disparity.
"Our battle is with this company here," he said explaining that the workers were being paid 20 per cent less than industry standards.
"The government of Alberta provides funding to operators like Hardisty to pay those fair wages," negotiator Jim Petrie told CTV News.
"They're really struggling to get to a wage that they are entitled to and is fair and reasonable."
However, VP of operations for Park Place, the company that runs Hardisty, Ian West said that was not true.
"AHS is not funding all sites equally," he told CTV News over the phone.
"That's an inaccuarate statement."
West said the AUPE had been demanding the 20 per cent increase from the beginning of the negotiations.
"If I was to concede to that I would have to do it at the cost of jobs and the cost of care hours for the residents," he explained.
"I think that this has more to do with the coming election than it is to do with a fair settlement for our employees at Hardisty."
NDP candidate for the Edmonton-Beverley-Clairview riding was at the rally and said it was not right for the government to get in the way of the strike action.
"It takes away the power away from unions to say ‘Listen we deserve to be paid a fair wage'," he said.
Olia Lysenko who has her mother in the care facility also put her support behind the workers' strike.
"I need to trust these people and I find they are wonderful," she said.
"My mother can't tell them what's wrong and yet they are always talking to her. They are just wonderful with her.
"It's a difficult job," she added.
"I have an enormous amount of admiration for them."
With files from Jessica Earle