AHS unfairly using temporary foreign workers during AUPE contact negotiations

Calgary, AB (January 30, 2015): Alberta Liberal Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Critic David Swann says AHS must return to the bargaining table with AUPE to negotiate the General Support Services staff contract.

“The work these frontline staff perform is critical to the operations of AHS,” says Swann. “They deserve respect and to be treated fairly by the organization that relies on them to keep the health system running safely and efficiently.”

A two-day meeting between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) scheduled last Monday to negotiate the General Support Services (GSS) staff contract was cut short after AHS pulled their offer and proposed to freeze pay instead. The initial deal would have seen a one percent increase a year for the next three years and a market adjustment for pharmacy assistants.

General Support Service positions include housekeepers, surgical processors, lab assistants, plumbers, electricians, maintenance, administrative, porters, service workers, pharmacy assistants and transcriptions. Average weekly earnings of GSS staff is $547 while Alberta’s average weekly earnings is $1108.

AUPE recently was informed by AHS that it had already employed 250 temporary foreign workers to fill its hiring gap since the start of this year.

“It is just plain wrong for AHS to use temporary foreign workers to supress staff wages and to strong arm contract negotiations,” says Swann. “A zero percent increase is essentially a 6 percent pay cut over three years due to inflation.

“AHS needs to return to the bargaining table in good faith.”

AUPE has filed a bargaining in bad faith complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board. In addition, the union has requested interest arbitration to determine what is fair and competitive for this collective agreement.