Alberta jail guards continue to strike

EDMONTON — More provincial workers are joining Alberta’s prison guards in a wildcat strike, according to their union, while the government counters the union is spreading rumours and many guards are actually returning to work.

EDMONTON — More provincial workers are joining Alberta’s prison guards in a wildcat strike, according to their union, while the government counters the union is spreading rumours and many guards are actually returning to work.

Tyler Bedford, a spokesman for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, announced Sunday that provincial sheriffs in Edmonton and Calgary will join the strike by hundreds of jail guards.

The sheriffs are members of the same AUPE local as the guards.

“Provincial sheriffs in Edmonton and Calgary voted overwhelmingly to support the striking guards,” said Bedford, who noted the sheriffs patrol highways and also provide security in courthouses and prisoner escorts.

Justice and solicitor general spokesman Josh Stewart, however, said the number of pickets on Sunday dropped from the day before and that many guards across the province have heeded a labour board order issued Saturday that their strike was illegal.

The government released a statement to corrections staff Sunday afternoon which said the province wanted to help them return to work.

“Some of you have returned to work, and others have said they would like to return to work but feel intimidated. We are aware of these union pressure tactics, which include misinformation being distributed,” the statement said.

The labour dispute involving hundreds of prison guards in Alberta is now into its third day.

The dispute was triggered by the suspension of an employee at the Edmonton Remand Centre who complained about safety issues.

Guards at several other detention centres walked off the job in protest and Guy Smith of the AUPE has encouraged workers to “stand strong.”

Inmates have been restricted to their jail cells and striking staff have been either replaced by municipal police or RCMP officers who are backing up correctional supervisors.

Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk has vowed that all legal means will be used to end the job action.

The labour board ruling on Saturday applied only to guards at the Edmonton Remand Centre and another facility northeast of the city in Fort Saskatchewan, but Stewart said it was later expanded to include a total of 10 facilities where guards had walked off the job.

Stewart said no workers have been charged yet, although he said those who were on picket lines early Sunday morning were served with court papers.

He was unable to specify what the court papers said.

Stewart said preparations were being made to bring RCMP officers from other provinces in case they are needed to assist their Alberta colleagues in the jails, but he said none had been brought in so far.

“The union put out a rumour that the RCMP was considering joining the strike. That’s completely, completely false,” Stewart said, adding there has been unruly behaviour on the picket lines.

“Picketers are bullying the (Alberta Health Services) nurses that are going by to give patients treatment.”

Bedford said he didn’t know who started the rumours, so he couldn’t speak to them.

He conceded that some guards may have returned to work at some facilities but he couldn’t say which ones.

“The thing about these wildcats is they’re organized at the worksite and not out of the union office,” Bedford said.

The guards’ union has said the suspension of the union member on Friday was the last straw for correctional officers who have complained about the design of the new Edmonton Remand Centre.

Just days before the jail opened, the AUPE said it found five pages of design flaws after touring the facility. At that time, the union asked the provincial government to delay the transfer of prisoners from the old remand centre until the changes were made.

Lukaszuk said the facility was deemed safe by occupational health and safety workers, which he noted were also members of the AUPE.

He said that if the guards have safety concerns, there are legal remedies that exist in their collective agreement.

Just Posted

Local artists are in the running for Alberta Country Music Awards, held Sunday in Red Deer

Tickers are available to the ceremony at the Sheraton hotel

RCMP seeking suspect in school bus collision and car jacking

Two children suffered minor injuries in collision on Tuesday near Springbrook around 8 a.m.

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the… Continue reading

Yellow vests in Canada bear no resemblance to protesters in France: ambassador

OTTAWA — Canada’s ambassador to France says this country’s yellow-vest protest movement… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour,’ ‘Weekends’ among Canadian Oscar nominees

LOS ANGELES — Several Canadians have landed Oscar nominations. The category for… Continue reading

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Most Read