NDP Government Must Clarify Whether They Have the Best Interests of Albertans or Union Pals at Heart: Wildrose

EDMONTON, AB: Recent actions by the NDP government and their union counterparts demonstrate that in the face of the worst economic downturn in over 50 years, the NDP government is choosing public sector pay raises over fiscal restraint, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

Particularly in a time when significant job losses and cutbacks are the norm in Alberta’s private sector, the NDP government must hold firm and ensure that all provincial government bodies go to the bargaining table with a clear plan to hold the line on public sector salaries.

In recent months, government bodies have negotiated raises for nurses, provincial judges, and general support employees. Many more contracts are set to come up for renegotiation this year.

“In a time of significant economic downturn, Albertans expect that their government will do its part to rein in expenses,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “I’ve talked to many in the public service who recognize that restraint is needed now in order to keep services sustainable for the long term. It’s just not the time for public sector pay raises.”

Also concerning is the possible expansion of the Alberta Union of Province Employees (AUPE) into what are currently management and out of scope positions. Current Alberta Health Services (AHS) job postings have revealed that all management and out-of-scope positions at AHS are “being reviewed for possible inclusion in the AUPE General Support Services bargaining unit.” This could potentially supply the AUPE with millions of extra dollars in union dues, and forcibly unionize more AHS employees, many of whom may have no interest in being unionized.

“When the president of the AUPE is warning the NDP government to not go to war with unions, it should be a wakeup call that lines are being drawn in the sand,” Wildrose Shadow Jobs Minister Grant Hunter said. “I know that everyday Albertans are expecting the government to be on their side of the line, not with the NDPs union pals who are showing no regard for Alberta’s limited finances.”