Union members rally at the Alberta legislature for stricter labour laws

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Union members rally at the Alberta legislature for stricter labour laws

Hundreds of Alberta workers and union members rallied on the steps of the Alberta legislature Sunday calling for the provincial government to update its labour laws.

Rally-goers held signs that read "stop double-breasting" and "unstack the deck" at the rally, organized by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL).

Although provincial governments have amended the laws over the years, some of them have remained untouched since 1976.

Alberta's NDP government said they are reviewing the labour laws but haven't specified what changes are coming.

Union and labour groups at Sunday's rally hope their concerns are heard and the NDP updates some of the laws they feel are outdated.

"We would like them to make changes to the binding first agreement legislation to actually have binding first agreement legislation," said Jim Haryett, business agent from Alberta's Teamsters 987 Union.

"Workers should not be forced out on the street on a strike situation just to get a first agreement."

"We feel that we need an employment standards code with real teeth," said Gil McGowan, the president of the AFL.

"Right now the inspectors from the labour department, even if they find an employer who is violating the meager rights and protection that exist in the current code, they don't have the tools to prosecute that employer."

Many at the rally are hopeful about the prospective changes to the labour code —but they're unsure how far the government will go.

"We have a government that is much more open to the kind of suggestions that we're proposing," McGowan said. "They're engaging us.

"Before, with conservative governments, it was clear that they were completely opposed to the kind of progressive workplace changes that we were proposing. We now have a government that's willing to listen."

McGowan said those at the rally should contact their local MLAs with their concerns before they change the laws.