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Striking health care workers could be penalized: AHS

Last Updated Oct 28, 2020 at 10:56 am MDT

Hospital workers with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees take part in a wildcat strike outside Foothills Hospital on Oct. 26, 2020. (PHOTO: Saif Kaisar, 660 NEWS)
Summary

Hundreds of health care support workers staged the wildcat strikes on Monday


The UCP government called the strikes irresponsible and illegal


AUPE said it could take legal action if penalties are enforced


CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Hospital workers who took part in an illegal strike on Monday could face some major penalties.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) said it is considering disciplinary actions as hospital support staff walked off the job over an announcement that 11,000 workers would be laid off.

Those positions are being contracted out to third-party companies instead.

AHS is considering handing out fines, suspensions, or even firing workers as a result of the strikes.

WATCH: UCP calling wildcat strike ‘irresponsible’

Political Scientist Lori Williams said the walkouts showed these employees are essential, as their actions caused surgeries to be delayed.

“A lot of Albertans are sharing the concern for the health care system and the treatment of these workers, that it’s been hypocritical and disrespectful,” she said.

“These are folks that are essential to the health care system, they’re being asked to take risks during a pandemic and they’ve already been told that their jobs and their contributions are basically dispensable.”

It’s unclear how many workers are being investigated or how long the process could take.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) which represents the workers could respond to the investigations by going through the legal system.

Hundreds of workers were ordered to return to work by the Labour Relations Board late Monday after staging the wildcat strikes at hospitals across the province.

However, Williams added the one-day strike appeared to have brought the message across.

“Yes, there was an order for them to go back to work, but it basically had an effect of calling attention to the issues and it seems to have generated a significant amount of support.”

Despite the Labour Relations Board finding no wrongdoing by AUPE, Finance Minister Travis Toews said AHS will ask the board to look into whether or not union leaders helped organize the strike.