EDMONTON - After months of acrimonious negotiations and tense legal wrangling, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said Monday it has secured a better four-year handle the province for thousands of front-line government employees.
Information on the tentative agreement are hoped for to be sold to AUPE members early Tuesday, said union president Guy Smith. The offer relates to roughly 22,000 government employees who have been and not using a collective agreement since March 2013. They're going to vote about the deal inside the coming weeks.
“It's undoubtedly been by far the most challenging round of negotiations that AUPE has ever been engaged in,” Smith said.
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News with the deal came exactly the same day the Alberta government abruptly abandoned its benefit of a court-ordered injunction against its controversial Bill 46 — the Public Service Salary Restraint Act.
While lawyers with the government reserved their right to appeal the injunction sometime soon, Monday’s adjournment means a legal court injunction contrary to the controversial labour law will stay essentially. However, considering that the law applied just to negotiations while using AUPE, it’s unlikely the province attempt to resurrect it.
Without revealing information on the settlement, Smith called it “an improvement” in the province’s previous four-year offer, which may have provided a $3,100 lump sum payout over the initial couple of years, a single-per-cent raise from the third as well as a two-per-cent rise in the 4th.
“It’s a vast improvement, otherwise we wouldn’t be recommending it or sending against eachother to the members,” Smith said. “It’s a deal that we can hold our heads high that any of us were reach.”
Inside a statement, Premier Dave Hancock said however be recommending the settlement be approved by cabinet
“Negotiations will almost allways be challenging, but I will assure Alberta government employees that individuals are focused on a respectful work environment where their effort is valued and appreciated,” Hancock said.
After months of bitterness and public protests, securing a great deal with all the province’s largest public sector union means the federal government can look forward to relatively peaceful labour relations over the 2016 provincial election.
Smith declared even though the union continues to be “at war” using the government going back year, the negotiated agreement signals a shift in the condition of affairs.
“I've stated numerous times that the relationship between AUPE and the government of Alberta have been severely damaged during the last year. Reaching this tentative agreement can be a step in the correct direction to rebuilding this relationship,” he explained. “The content I’m hearing ... is usually that the government also believes this relationship is significant too. But there’s quite a distance to attend rebuild the trust and mutual respect vital to a good working relationship.”
He credited Hancock with having a “respectful, honest, open discussion about key issues” within a meeting relating to the two a couple weeks ago.
“Within the last year — and longer — I was trying to find the same meeting with former premier (Alison) Redford, but wasn't considering that opportunity,” he was quoted saying. “It’s an exceptionally encouraging sign whenever a sitting premier sits down, recognizes, listens, and respectfully tries to deal with the conditions that we brought up.”