United Nurses of Alberta says Finance Minister Travis Toews was wrong to claim that Alberta Health Services recently applied for informal mediation during contract negotiations and that nurses objected.
On Wednesday while nurses across the province were holding information pickets to protest under staffing, closed beds, and wage rollbacks, Toews said that last week AHS proposed informal mediation to UNA, in an attempt to move towards a settlement agreement, and “union leadership declined the offer.”
UNA said its bargaining committee indicated to AHS negotiators they were free to apply for informal mediation if they wished and UNA would not object or view it as a provocation in negotiations.
“AHS chose not to do so,” said the UNA in a statement.
UNA said AHS is demanding across-the-board retroactive pay cuts of three per cent, plus additional monetary cuts that would raise the cost of the rollbacks to an average five per cent for UNA members who have already taken six years of zeros.
“This would amount to about a 12-per-cent reduction in nursing pay” said the UNA.
Toews has said more than half of the province’s operating budget is spent on public sector compensation and efficiencies must be found.
Another day of bargaining between UNA and AHS was scheduled on Thursday.