AHS flip flops on wage freezes after mediation

After months of insisting on 4 years of wage freezes, Alberta Health Services has partially reversed their stance following meeting with a mediator.

Back in April, I reported that Alberta Health Services had proposed a wage freeze for general support services workers over a 4-year period.

General support services workers provide support of varying kinds throughout AHS. For example, they include food services, housekeeping, administrative support, specialized cleaning, clerking, laundry, and even refrigeration mechanics.

GSS workers within the AHS system have been without a collective agreement since their previous one expired on 31 March 2020.

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As a result of taking over 2 years to years to bargain—partially due to pandemic-related delays—two of the four years of proposed wage freezes would be retroactive: 2020 and 2021.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, bargaining on behalf of the workers, refused the 4-year wage freeze and eventually, bargaining went to mediation.

According to a media release published by AUPE last week, the mediator turn down that wage freeze.

Well, kind of.

The mediator agreed to wage freezes for the first two years (2020 and 2021), but recommended a 1.25% increase in the third year (as of 1 September 2022) and 2% in year 4 (as of 1 April 2023).

In addition to that, GSS workers have been offered a 1% lump sum payment for all hours worked during 2021, as well as a $1,400 lump sum payment for full-time workers and a $1,400 pro-rated lump sum payment for part-time and casual workers.

Alberta Health Services has also agreed to pause contracting out jobs until March 2024.

The bargaining team also managed to win against AHS proposals on red-circling (when a worker hits the top of their pay scale), rollbacks to shift and weekend differential, and the hiring of temporary staff for longer periods of time.

Finally, AHS agreed to improvements to benefits, including eye exam, physiotherapy, counselling, and massage therapy coverage.

AUPE’s bargaining team will be conducting telephone town halls for GSS workers later this month:

  • Tuesday, July 26
    • 18:00–19:30
  • Wednesday, July 27
    • 11:30–13:00
    • 18:00–19:30

GSS workers will then have the opportunity to vote on the tentative agreement.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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