Union files nearly 800 grievances with AHS over disciplinary action for October strike

EDMONTON — Alberta’s largest union says it has filed nearly 800 grievances with Alberta Health Services over disciplinary action being taken against hospital workers who staged a one-day wildcat strike last October.

The grievances filed by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) relate to 771 letters of warning and 27 suspensions from work ranging from one to five days, union officials say.

“AHS has created as many grievances from one day of protest as they would normally face in two years from AUPE,” Bonnie Gostola, vice-president of AUPE, said in a written statement.

Last October, AUPE hospital workers around the province walked off the job to protest the government’s plan to contract out about 11,000 laundry and lab positions, a move AUPE said was dangerous to Alberta’s health-care system. 

The AUPE represents more than 90,000 workers, including 58,000 in health care.

AHS RESPONSE

In a written statement, an AHS spokesperson said that after a thorough investigation by the Alberta Relations Labour Board (ARLB), the Oct. 26 strike was ruled to be illegal.

“In advance of the strike, AHS had communicated to staff and AUPE that it would be pursuing action on any illegal activity and staff would not be granted amnesty,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson told CTV News Edmonton.

Williamson confirmed that disciplinary action had been taken by AHS.

He said the majority of sanctions were in the form of a letter of warning, with a few receiving five-day suspensions without pay.

“We have asked the ARLB to assist the parties in a consolidated approach to help address the unprecedented volume and similarity of grievances.”

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