legislation would make it illegal to call for public sector strikes in Alberta
CALGARY Alberta Premier Alison Redford's government is set to pass a bill that restricts union leaders and, critics say, ordinary citizens as well from calling for illegal public sector strikes, under threat of fines of up to $1 million a day.
The legislation perceived attack on free speech has created odd allies, uniting the Alberta Federation of Labour and the right wing Wildrose party.
"It's Orwellian, is what it is," said Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "Redford is suggesting that her government should act as the thought police."
Expected to pass third reading on Thursday evening, Bills 45 and 46 would strip the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) the right to binding arbitration (strikes were made illegal in the late '70s).
The bills also bar unions, their leaders, third parties and, it is feared, ordinary Albertans from counselling any kind of strike under threat of fines ranging from $500 to $1 million per day.
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"These bills go way too far over the line," said Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson. Wildrose supports increasing penalties for union leaders who organized illegal strikes, but opposes proposals to remove binding arbitration and place limits on freedom of speech.
"I think this is going to get turfed [by the courts]. This law has all the hallmarks of poor legislation. It is very vague on what is meant by the 'threat of an illegal strike.' It impinges on freedom of speech in unnecessary ways," he said.
Mr. McGowan, if he acted in an organized way, could be fined up to $500 if it were proven he were orchestrating an illegal strike, Mr. Lukaszuk said.
We usually see this kind of language in a context where the underlying offence is serious, like inciting property damage or a riot
However, the bills wholesale jerseys would not affect "employees who simply express their frustration with the employer," he said.
"We usually see this kind of language in a context where the underlying offence is serious, like inciting property damage or a riot," she said.
The bills, which will affect upcoming negotiations with AUPE, will effectively enforce a four year contract with workers that will see nominal wage increases, Mr. McGowan said. He expects the same approach to be levelled on nurses and other public sector cheap jerseys unions.
"If Redford rams through these pieces of legislation [on Thursday], it will usher in a generation of poisoned labour relations in Alberta," he said.
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