Striking care workers from Revera Riverbend Retirement Residence
Credits: AVID BLOOM/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
A public emergency tribunal ordered Revera Riverbend nursing staff to end their 70-day strike.
"We respect the rights of the bargaining parties under our labour legislation, but we can't allow situations that threaten the health, safety and well-being of Albertans in care," Human Services Minister Dave Hancock said. "A public emergency has been declared in this case and I have referred the matter to a public emergency tribunal."
Health Minister Fred Horne cited an audit that found a risk to the health and safety of residents.
"While there has been a contingency plan in place to ensure the health and safety of residents, it is no longer working. The situation inside the Revera facility has deteriorated," Horne said. "This latest audit found evidence of conditions that pose an unacceptable level of risk to residents."
Union president Guy Smith said the employees are ready to go back to caring for seniors.
"We regret that thus far we have not been able to achieve a resolution through free collective bargaining, but we will follow the legal orders issued by the minister, and continue to negotiate," Smith said.
The strikers claim they are overworked and underpaid, making up to 30% less than what workers earn at other facilities for the same job.
Revera Riverbend and the employees have 21 days to reach an agreement with a government-appointed mediator or face a public emergency tribunal inquiry.