Alberta charts new territory at bargaining table

Government aims to streamline negotiations with public sector unions
||Last Updated: 03/02/2015

New reforms introduced in Alberta will streamline negotiations between the government and public sector unions, the premier says.

Premier Jim Prentice announced on Feb. 2 that the provincial government will overhaul the way it bargains with public service unions, in order to establish a coordinated and disciplined approach.

On the heels of the announcement, Prentice also said a working group was to be established and led by Alberta’s justice and solicitor-general deputy minister, Tim Grant. Grant has been tasked with developing a funding mechanism that is “fair, consistent and respectful of both workers and taxpayers,” according to Prentice.

Recent negotiations have resulted in costly collective agreements, with public sector salaries in Alberta slated to increase by $2.6 billion over the next three years.

“This is about getting our own house in order and improving how we bargain,” he added. “As public servants, we are all paid out of the same purse. At times, bargaining is conducted as though there are different owners of that purse when, in reality, there is only one — the Alberta taxpayer.”

As part of its mandate, the working group will seek to define roles and responsibilities, examine how to achieve fair settlements for public sector employees that are consistent with the government’s fiscal goals, apply objective market data and promote overall labour stability.

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