AHS refuses to back down on huge wage rollbacks

In an email sent out last week, HSAA negotiators said that they’re moving to mediation after months of AHS refusing to change their position on massive wage rollbacks.

Late last week, the bargaining team for the Health Sciences Association of Alberta emailed HSAA members with their latest update on negotiations with their employer, Alberta Health Services.

I was sent a copy of this email from an HSAA member.

The union, which represents over 27,000 paramedical technical, professional and general support employees in the public and private healthcare sectors in Alberta has been bargaining with AHS for months to develop a new contract.

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HSAA most recent collective agreement expired 31 March 2020. As of the end of this month, they will be two years without a contract. On top of that, HSAA workers haven’t seen any wage increases since 2015.

AHS has proposed wage rollbacks for over half of HSAA workers, retroactive to 1 April 2020; however, the size of the rollbacks varies depending on profession.

Pharmacy technician-10.93%
Social worker-10.90%
Speech language pathologist-8.69%
Respiratory therapist-8.05%
Health information management professional-7.49%
Occupational therapist-5.39%
Therapy assistant-2.35%
Diagnostic sonographer-1.87%
Advanced care paramedic-0.28%

That’s an average wage rollback of 5.36%.

Given that HSAA workers haven’t seen a wage increase since 2015, this means these wage rollbacks—if approved—will put their wages back to where they were over a decade ago.

The email that the bargaining team sent out reported that while AHS and HSAA had been able to make “significant progress on several non-monetary items”, AHS weren’t willing to engage with HSAA “on any matters that have monetary implications”.

Further, the HSAA bargaining team claim that AHS is very clearly “working with a mandate from the government that limits their ability to negotiate on monetary items”. They also said that the above wage rollbacks “are still on the table” and that any time HSAA brings up proposals with any monetary component, “negotiations come to a standstill”.

As a result, negotiations have moved onto voluntary mediation, according to the email, which was, as of last Friday, scheduled to begin tomorrow. Every week for the rest of June will have scheduled mediation sessions, including on weekends.

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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.

3 replies on “AHS refuses to back down on huge wage rollbacks”

I retired as an HSAA member and AHS employee in 2020. I saw this coming and took my pension early and escaped. Very glad I did! The pandemic is the only thing that has kept the government from rolling back wages this long.

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