World News – CA – Alberta Labor Relations Board to hold emergency hearing after AHS files complaint about healthcare workers quitting


AHS says it is putting « contingency plans » in place to redeploy non-union staff, including managers, where possible to cover missing staff

The province’s labor relations board is holding an emergency hearing Monday afternoon after Alberta health services filed a complaint about workers quitting earlier in the day

General support health workers, licensed practical nurses and orderlies across Alberta went on a wildcat strike Monday morning to protest the announcement made by Minister of Health Tyler Shandro earlier this month that 11,000 jobs, including laundry services and laboratory work, are being cut by the government, mostly through outsourcing to third-party companies

Speaking outside Royal Alexandra Hospital on Monday morning, Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents workers who have left, said the wildcat strike – action taken by workers unionized without the permission of the union leadership – was basic and spontaneous

« The anger and frustration that has been building up for over a year was really brought to light by this (announcement) two weeks ago, » Smith said

In a statement, AHS called the professional action illegal and said it had contacted staff asking them to return to work

« AHS today filed an application with the Labor Relations Board to formally ask the board to redirect affected employees to work, » the statement read

The Alberta Labor Relations Board (ALRB) has confirmed that the emergency hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday However, it was delayed by at least 30 minutes

University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams said ALRB likely will declare strikes illegal because collective agreement is still in effect, members did not vote to strike and there was no lockout

If that happens, Adams said there will be pressure on AUPE to get members back to work as quickly as possible, and AHS and the government could respond by filing an injunction asking for fines and charges. sanctions against the union

People who fail to show up for work after a strike has been declared illegal may face work-related consequences, but this is unlikely to happen in the short term, Adams said

« These types of moments are usually rare, as it is a sign that there is a fairly significant level of work unrest at the heart of a business And the pandemic adds another dimension of challenge for workplaces and for the labor movement, ”Adams said

Health workers left their jobs this morning A large group is outside the Royal Alex and receives a lot of support from passing vehicles #yeg #ableg #abhealtb #abpoli picTwittercom / aADq08jdMi

AUPE calls on the government to hire more staff and reverse its decision to cut 11,000 jobs

« Every government, every political leader around the world celebrates and thanks the work of its healthcare workers during this pandemic It is only in Alberta, during the pandemic, that they tell you that you are going to lose your jobs Smith said, adding that workplaces are understaffed and employees are burning out due to the pandemic and workers have called on the government to fill them. vacancies and provide additional help

The union represents around 58,000 health workers, although it is not immediately clear how many have left their jobs

Workers have gone on strike at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, University of Alberta Hospital, Glenrose Hospital and Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Foothills Hospital, South Health Campus and Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary, Red Deer Regional Hospital, Athabasca, Westlock, Lethbridge, Whitecourt, Cold Lake, Peace River, Leduc, Westview and Fort Saskatchewan

AHS said visitors may be limited to some sites depending on the level of strike action

As of Monday afternoon, the crowd outside the Royal Alexandra had passed to a few hundred Representatives from the Alberta Federation of Labor, United Nurses of Alberta, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, as well as other non-professional health unions were held outside in solidarity with AUPE members

Heather Smith, president of the UNA, said there has long been « extreme woe » within the health system

« You can’t keep beating people up and expect them to take it, » she said

« Whether you are talking about nurses, whether you are talking about housekeeping or dietetics, it’s all part of our team And when you outsource, a housekeeper who assigns me as a nurse, when you outsourcing food affects me as a nurse, and it is time for this government to recognize that we are a family of providers and that we don’t like to be torn apart other than we are not going to put up with being torn and thrown away, like Kleenex, we are not disposable as labor « 

Colleen Buzikevich, an environmental services worker who takes care of housekeeping at the Royal Alexandra and who was picketing outside the hospital Monday morning, said hearing about the job cuts was devastating

« It was like a burning knife in the heart, » said Buzikevich « We are fighting for our livelihood We have families to support we have spouses we have, people have children This is how that you pay for the food on your table and it is taken away from us It feels like the carpet has come out from under us « 

Following the action, AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said elective surgeries have been postponed across the province Procedures were halted in the Edmonton area last week due to capacity issues resulting from COVID-19

AHS said it was taking action to address disruptions in patient care, including redeploying non-union staff where possible

« It’s unfortunate, but when you have an employer who doesn’t listen and understand, sometimes you have to take these steps Now we are committed to ensuring safety of life and physical integrity So if there is a problem in the hospital that requires the attention of these staff, we will send some of them with the intention of helping us, ”he said

Smith said he had had a working relationship with previous prime ministers, but with Prime Minister Jason Kenney there is « no relationship »

« The fact that we weren’t able to have that, building this relationship with this government means it might be more difficult to address these talking points, » said Smith « We know we are going to disagree, but we are currently at a point of crisis and we are ready to help resolve this problem if the government is »

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley called the strike « deeply concerning » and said the province’s plan to privatize jobs will result in a degradation of health care

« It was Jason Kenney who caused widespread chaos in our healthcare system – the blame lies squarely at his feet, » Notley said in a statement.

« UCP must end this deliberate attack on public health care and return to the table with frontline health heroes »

Steve Buick, Shandro’s press secretary, along with Labor and Immigration Minister Jason Copping, who attended an independent press conference on Monday, addressed questions about the strikes to Finance Minister Travis Toews

« This action is irresponsible We will ensure that union leaders are held accountable, » Toews said

Meanwhile, the HSAA, which represents 27,000 medical professionals, and the UNA have said in separate statements that their members will not do the work of other union members

The AFL and its affiliated unions have said they will also join picket lines across the province to show their support

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News from the world – CA – Alberta Labor Relations Board to hold emergency hearing after AHS files complaint about workers in health who quit their job


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