Guy Smith, the president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, has penned an angry open letter to Premier Alison Redford, condemning her government for delaying strike action at Edmonton’s Devonshire Care Centre.
The employees were set to strike on July 3, but Dave Hancock, the minister of Human Services, stepped in and appointed a disputes inquiry board, preventing strike action from taking place. The reported cause of the interference is that Park Place Seniors Living, the private B.C. company that runs the facility, had failed to demonstrate its ability to care for residents in the event of a strike — something the AUPE calls negligent.
“The effect of the minister’s action will be protracted labour strife in Alberta’s private, for-profit seniors health care facilities,” reads the letter. “Park Place Seniors Living has already demonstrated its contempt for the Dispute Inquiry Board process, having rejected a recommendation for settlement at Hardisty Care Centre, which is in its seventh week of a strike. Essentially, your government, with the support of the Alberta Labour Relations Board, has participated in the employer’s strategy to delay strike action.”
The letter goes on to say that the government is allowing a private company to exploit workers, most of whom are women and immigrants.
The workers are angry over low wages despite the province providing funding for higher wages and benefits.