'Wage freeze' talk damaging to Alberta bargaining | National Union of Public and General Employees

'Wage freeze' talk damaging to Alberta bargaining

'More and more health care workers are taking stress leave or opting for early retirement, tired of being beaten down by this employer.' - Elisabeth Ballermann.

Elisabeth Ballermann, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE)Edmonton (30 June 2010) - Recent talk of wage freezes by Stephen Duckett, the CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS), further disillusion already weary health care workers across the province, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).

“We understand the process of negotiation, including pre-bargaining posturing, but Mr. Duckett’s comments are ill-timed and ill-conceived,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA president.

HSAA represents close to 20,000 health care professionals across Alberta.

“I hear it on a daily basis – more and more health care workers are taking stress leave or opting for early retirement, tired of being beaten down by this employer," Ballermann says.

"There’s a reason why Alberta’s health care industry boasts one of the highest rates of stress found in any field. The results from (AHS's) own recent employee survey confirm a growing level of dissatisfaction within their workforce.”

HSAA plans to survey its membership to determine the union’s bargaining objectives for the next round of negotiations, set to commence in early 2011.

“The province has just moved close to 1,700 emergency medical services (EMS) and former Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) employees under its AHS umbrella, which has created a lot of anxiety for some of these valued employees," Ballermann notes.

"And now Mr. Duckett is talking about wage freezes? Apparently, AHS has said in the past that they don’t like to negotiate in the media – unless, of course, it’s convenient for them to drop a bomb like this.... The bargaining table is the place for this type of discussion,” she added.

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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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