UNDERSTANDING BILL 46
Bill 46 applies to AUPE direct government employee bargaining unit of 21,600 employees. AUPE’s contract expired on March 31, 2013. AUPE and the Government of Alberta had agreed to binding arbitration to settle their contract. The bill removes AUPE’s right to arbitration, ending the process the parties had begun.
AUPE and the government had agreement on an arbitrator and arbitration dates scheduled in February. AUPE offered arbitration dates in the last week of November, but the government said it was not available.
Bill 46 strips AUPE of its right to the arbitration process for this collective agreement.
Bill 46 imposes a wage settlement of 0%,0%,1%,1% over four years, with a lump sum payment of $875 in the second year. This is identical to a government wage offer presented to the union on November 22.
The government says AUPE can attempt to negotiate a settlement by January 31, 2014, with the option for cabinet to extend that date to March 31, 2014.
If an agreement is not imposed by either deadline, the bill extends the existing collective agreement until 2017, with wage adjustments of 0%, 0%, 1%, 1% and a lump sum payment of $875 in the second year.
The Public Service Employee Relations acts forbids government employees from going on strike. The Lougheed government’s rationale in 1977 was that binding arbitration was a fair substitute for the removal of the right to strike.
The following are some of Minister Leitch’s Comments on second reading of Bill 41, The Public Service Employees on May 10, 1977:
“If they are not to have the right strike, in fairness to them we must provide a system for resolving labour relations issues that is not only fair but is seen to be fair by them.
“Mr. Speaker. I’ll conclude by simply saying it is our intention to provide in Bill 41 the fairest possible labour relations system for employees of Alberta short of providing them with the right to withdraw services or strike. In that I believe we have succeeded, and for that reason I believe Bill 41 warrants the support of the members of the Assembly.”
AUPE has not had to resort to arbitration in collective bargaining for over 30 years.
AUPE will call a meeting of its Government Services Bargaining Committee before deciding its next steps.
Posted on Fri, November 29, 2013
by Diane Johnston