Health workers set to rally against Bill 27

EDMONTON - Health care workers from seven different unions will rally at the Legislature over the lunch hour tomorrow to protest Bill 27, the government's controversial amendment to the Alberta Labour Relations Code.

If passed, the Bill will strip the right to strike from more than 7,000 community health workers; it will remove decision-making power from the impartial Alberta Labour Relations Board and hand it to the provincial cabinet; and it will set up a process that could lead to lower wages and reduced conditions of work in the health sector.

"These are the most sweeping and potential damaging changes to Alberta's labour laws that we've seen in the past 20 years," says Les Steel President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"And they're being rammed through the Legislature without input from the public or affected health care workers. If the government thinks they can use the distraction of war to pass bad laws without public scrutiny, they've got another thing coming."

The rally will be held on the Legislature steps starting at noon tomorrow, Thursday, March 20, 2003. Speakers will include:

  • Judy Darcy, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
  • Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA)
  • Elisabeth Ballermann, President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA)
  • Yvonne Fast, President, CUPE Alberta Division
  • Brian Mason, Deputy Leader, Alberta New Democrats

Bill 27 was introduced last week without any warning and without any consultation with health care workers. The Bill has been rushed through the Legislature, passing Second Reading on Monday and moving to committee debate today. It could be passed as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

The rally is being organized by CUPE, with support from the AFL, UNA, HSAA, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).

For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL Communications  @ (780) 483-3021 or (780) 910-1137 (cell)

Pam Beattie, CUPE Communications  @ (780) 288-1230 (cell)

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