Alberta Public Sector Workers Rally at Legislature
Against Government Anti-Social Measures
On October 18, about 1,000 public sector workers and their allies rallied in Edmonton at the Alberta legislature to oppose Bill 9 and the United Conservative Party’s expected cuts to social programs. A provincial budget is expected on October 24. The rally took place during the AUPE convention.
Unions represented at the rally included the Alberta Union of Public Employees who called the rally, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, Canadian Postal Workers’ Union, Non-Academic Staff Association, United Nurses of Alberta, Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations, and Association of Academic Staff of University of Alberta. Spokespersons for a number of unions as well as the president of Alberta Federation of Labour made brief, strong speeches expressing the need for all public sector unions to unite against government attacks.
Alberta workers have been fighting Bill 9, the so-called Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, since the Kenney government passed it on June 28. Bill 9 unilaterally erases provisions in collective agreements covering 180,000 Alberta public sector workers. The bill delays the start of wage arbitration so that the Kenney government can pass legislation dictating public sector wages without negotiations or consent of public sector workers. Bill 9 is in total contravention of the signed contracts already negotiated in good faith with public sector unions and accepted by the previous government and workers.
While public sector workers are the specific target of Bill 9, the unilateral changing of a collective agreement is a general attack on the working class and its right to a say and control over wages, conditions of work and living standards. Bill 9 violates workers’ right to negotiate terms of employment and to have those terms upheld in a climate of equilibrium, not arbitrariness and dictate. The public sector workers and their unions did not consent to the changes in Bill 9 and they have organized against it ever since. The enthusiastic October 18 rally emphatically underlined once again that the Alberta workers’ staunch opposition will continue as the long as the anti-worker bill and other anti-people legislation remain in force.