A planned lockout at Points West Living in Cold Lake has been called off today after Provincial intervention.
The Alberta government granted management’s request for a Disputes Inquiry Board (DIB) to be established as a neutral third-party in the negotiation process. This means employees will have to stay on the job until further notice from the DIB.
“We are thankful of the government’s decision to establish the DIB and are optimistic that this will lead to a collective agreement” says Doug Mills, CEO of Points West Living.
However, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) representing the workers takes a much dimmer view. “The NDP government is allowing the employer to prepare scab labour, private security and put other provisions in place enabling the company to avoid dealing with this situation directly,” said AUPE vice-president Mike Dempsey. “The province has rescued the employer and left residents and the workers who care for them in limbo.”
Accusations of scab labour seem to be verified by dozens of job postings for the facility appearing on Infomall earlier this week.
“Now residents and workers are frustrated and confused about what will happen next,” said Dempsey. “Both the government and the company seem to be scrambling here and their contradictory and provocative moves are escalating conflict instead of working for a resolution.
“None of this chaos would be necessary if this lucrative company would simply negotiate a fair contract with their employees,” said Dempsey.
Points West however, insists that they are offering exactly that. “AUPE has concluded at least two collective agreements at similar Designated Supportive Living communities with lower starting and ending rates of pay than the ones contained in this offer,” a statement from the company reads. “AUPE has mentioned in bargaining that they have recently ratified higher percentage wage increases with other employers than the wage increases offered by PWL Cold Lake. AUPE ignored the fact that the current wages for these employees are less than the wages offered by PWL Cold Lake.”
A rally was still held by staff outside the building at 2:30 today as negotiations and work continues.