The union that represents registered nurses in Alberta says the government demands a four-year wage freeze and setbacks to other payments.
United Nurses of Alberta says that this week began contract negotiations with Alberta Health Services on a new agreement to replace the current agreement that expires on March 31.
The union says its opening proposal is two percent increases in each year of a two-year agreement and some improvements in the language of the contract.
He says that along with the wage freeze, the government wants to reduce salary premiums for employees with higher education, eliminate designated rest days for part-time employees and reduce overtime and bonuses for work nights, nights and weekends.
The president of the union, Heather Smith, says that the last time the government pressed for such setbacks was in 1988, when nurses began a strike throughout the province.
Alberta Health Services says its proposal aligns compensation with the economic realities facing Alberta and the need to maximize money from medical care for services to people in the communities it serves.
“Our proposal reflects the need to align compensation more closely with comparable provinces, while ensuring that employees receive a fair, competitive and fiscally responsible payment,” AHS said in an email Wednesday.
The union says the AHS negotiating committee says its proposal is based on what it calls “the Ontario-West standard.”
UNA Labor Relations Director David Harrigan says the government seems to be looking for ideas in Ontario.
“We are extremely concerned about the behavior of this government in these negotiations,” Harrigan said in a statement Wednesday.
The union represents more than 30,000 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses.
He says that the next negotiation dates were set for January 30 and 31.