Alberta announces wage offer for government workers during collective bargaining

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is offering a 7.5-per-cent wage increase in the midst of collective bargaining, with government workers calling for a 26-per-cent bump.

More than 22,000 members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees fall under the negotiations that began this year, including workers in social services, corrections and natural resources conservation.

In a previous update to members, the union called the government's opening four-year offer an insult.

The union's counter-proposal spans three years.

Finance Minister Nate Horner says his United Conservative Party government values the public service but doesn't see publicly funded employees getting the same kind of settlement the union is demanding anywhere else in Canada.

Horner calls the union's wage position extreme.

"The Alberta government will not increase taxes or cut programs, services or workers to give unprecedented salary increases that will result in pay well above market rates," Horner said in a news release Monday.

Guy Smith, president of the union, said the government has been aware of the union's proposals since March 6, and the union won't budge from what it calls fair and reasonable demands.

Smith called Horner's statement unwarranted and unhelpful.

"The cost of living has increased for everyone, and every worker has the right to fair, livable compensation from their employers," he said.

Smith said negotiations should take place in good faith and at the bargaining table, not through the press.

"There is no reason that any government worker should be unable to afford food, clothes and rent while working full time for the government of a very wealthy province," said the union's update in February.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2024.

The Canadian Press