EDMONTON – Alberta has introduced legislation to expand the right to strike for about 150,000 public-sector employees.
Labour Minister Christina Gray says the legislation is to bring Alberta in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling last year.
Alberta traditionally has banned strikes and lockouts involving public-sector workers, but the Supreme Court ruled that the right to strike is a fundamental right for unionized employees.
The bill sets out parameters for strikes while keeping essential services going in areas such as health and police services.
It supports the right to strike for all employees of government, Alberta Health Services, agencies, boards, commissions and non-academic staff at post-secondary institutions.
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) issued a news release Monday afternoon to indicate its support for the government’s proposed amendments.
“Working people have always had the right to strike. It’s a fundamental component of the freedom
of association that’s guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Alberta
Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said in the release. “This legislation recognizes there is no full and
meaningful right of association through collective bargaining without the ability of workers to
withhold their labour.”
“This is the kind of respectful and consensus-based approach that should form the foundation of all
labour legislation,” McGowan added.
In its release, the AFL also acknowledged the importance of ensuring services are still provided in cases where a labour disruption could endanger the lives or safety of the public.
Police and firefighters would not be allowed to strike.
With files from Phil Heidenreich.
© 2016 The Canadian Press