Alberta may discipline some jail guards who took part in strike

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is suggesting it may discipline some jail guards who took part in an illegal strike, a move their union says would threaten labour peace.

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is suggesting it may discipline some jail guards who took part in an illegal strike, a move their union says would threaten labour peace.

Deputy solicitor general Tim Grant says there’s a report that some guards who left their posts at the new Edmonton Remand Centre when the strike began may have put inmates, managers and other guards in danger.

“This incident will be investigated and dealt with appropriately,” Grant wrote in a statement released Thursday.

Grant, a former Canadian Forces major-general who commanded troops in Afghanistan, did not say what “appropriately” means.

He said it is not the government’s intention to seek retribution against guards who “just participated in the illegal strike.”

Grant said he met with guards at the new $580-million facility twice on Wednesday to discuss what he called issues of concern and was to meet with staff again Thursday.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said the threat of discipline breaks a promise of amnesty the government made that helped end the almost five-day strike at 10 correctional facilities across the province.

Premier Alison Redford confirmed that pledge, but also suggested it might not apply to all union members.

“We certainly did say to the union that we were going to make sure there were no acts of retribution,” Redford said.

“I think the deputy minister of the solicitor general was very clear today … that if there were acts that were committed that put people’s safety at risk, than those needed to be dealt with at a management level.”

Redford declined to say whether any of the guards could lose their jobs

Union president Guy Smith said the government’s conduct is inflaming a volatile situation at the remand centre. He accused Grant of taunting guards at the jail instead of dealing with their safety concerns.

Smith said the union has filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board, which was to hear it late Thursday afternoon.

The union is seeking a cease-and-desist order against the government and a directive to order Grant to retract statements that he made to some guards, he said.

“We are doing everything we can to calm the waters and instead the government is throwing gas onto the fire. It is really dangerous and irresponsible,” Smith said.

“The very first thing the deputy solicitor general should have dealt with is the health and safety concerns that drove members to take action in the first place. Instead, he has been inflaming raw emotions and threatening labour peace with his actions.”

The union and government came to an agreement Tuesday night to end the strike and workers returned to their jobs Wednesday.

The province has said the strike by guards, along with other walkouts in their support by Justice Department staff such as sheriffs and court clerks, cost taxpayers $1.3 million because RCMP officers and municipal police had to staff jails and courthouses. The government has announced plans to recoup more than $6 million in financial losses.

The province has also filed a notice that it plans to stop deducting dues for the union for six months.

Unions depend on dues to finance most of their operations. The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees represents more than 22,000 government workers.

“It would have an impact on the operation of the union, but we will fight it in the courts where we can,” Smith said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo, FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Wray is set to testify for the first time since the deadly Jan. 6 deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)
FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

In this image from KYMA law enforcement work at the scene of a deadly crash involving a semitruck and an SUV in Holtville, Calif., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (KYMA via AP)
California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures as he stands behind a grass of the cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was transported to a prison 100km away from Moscow. Navalny was taken to a prison in Pokrov city after Moscow city court rejected appeal against his prison sentence on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), appears beofre a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Jahmil French arrives on the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 11, 2018. Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2005 file photo, Bunny Wailer performs at the One Love concert to celebrate Bob Marley's 60th birthday, in Kingston, Jamaica. Wailer, a reggae luminary who was the last surviving member of the legendary group The Wailers, died on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in his native Jamaica, according to his manager. He was 73. (AP Photo/Collin Reid, File)
Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Eddie Murphy, left, and Arsenio Hall appear in a scene from "Coming 2 America." (Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures via AP)
33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

Most Read