Alberta's health care workers reject wage-cut threats

President of Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE) warns Premier that members will not quietly accept having their contract ripped up and wage cuts.

Edmonton (26 Jan. 2015) — Front-line workers are not to blame for Alberta’s financial woes and will not accept wage rollbacks, says the President of the union representing 25,000 health care professionals.

“The ink is barely dry on our new contract with Alberta Health Services (AHS), so to hear Premier Prentice attacking our wages has infuriated our members,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).

Attack will not go unchallenged

“If this government was surprised by the strength of protests over the attack on our pensions last year, they haven’t seen anything yet" said Ballermann. "This attack on our livelihoods will not go unchallenged. We are not to blame for the Conservative government’s abject failure to manage provincial finances for decades,” she says.

“Volatile oil prices aren’t a surprise. To use them as an excuse to force wage rollbacks is inexcusable. The real issue in Alberta is the unfair tax regime that has given unnecessary massive tax breaks to the wealthy and profitable corporations.”

Ripping up the new contract?

A total of 17,000 HSAA members working for AHS have only recently approved a new contract that saw raises below cost-of-living increases. “They simply won’t accept ripping up that contract to accept pay cuts,” says Ballermann.

“Albertans know this is unfair and don’t like it. If the premier calls an early election this spring, this will be the defining issue. It’s time for all Albertans to pay their fair share.”

Ballermann says health care workers accepted a wage rollback during the Klein years on the promise that it would mean there would be no layoffs.

“That promise was broken,” she says. “Our members will not be fooled again.”

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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