ALBERTA

Third Alberta Jail Guard Fired By Province In Illegal Strike

07/08/2013 10:21 EDT | Updated 09/07/2013 05:12 EDT
EDMONTON - A third jail guard involved in an illegal strike has been fired in a move the union says breaks a deal the Alberta government made to end the dispute.

The president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says all three guards were dismissed for their involvement in a strike that started at the new Edmonton Remand Centre and spread to the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre.

Guy Smith says the government had promised not to seek retribution for the wildcat walkout.

He says the union will stand by its members "and fight this betrayal."

The other two guards were fired late last week.

All three were senior officers in supervisory positions at the correctional centre.

“Several senior officials, including Premier Redford, made that promise publicly,” said Smith. “They’ve gone back on their word and are trying to make an example of them to intimidate every corrections worker in the province.”

The union is grieving all three dismissals and will seek expedited arbitration of the grievances. The union will also pursue legal action against the government.

The strike, which spread to nine correctional facilities in the province, started over health and safety concerns at the remand centre.

No one from the government was immediately available to comment on the firings.

In a news release, the union quoted previous statements from cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and Premier Alison Redford saying no action would be taken against striking guards.

Deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk is quoted as saying on a May 1 talk radio show that ``we will not be in any way pursuing individual union members.''

The next day, Redford told reporters: ``We certainly did say to the union that we were going to make sure there were no acts of retribution.''

However, in the same news conference, Redford went on to say: ``If there were acts that were committed that put people's safety at risk, then those needed to be dealt with at a management level.''

She was commenting on a statement from deputy solicitor general Tim Grant who said that some guards who left their posts at the remand centre when the strike began may have put inmates, managers and other guards in danger.

Since the strike ended, the government has taken measures against the union.

A motion to suspend the collection of union dues for six months is in front of the Alberta Labour Relations Board. An effort to seek repayment of costs incurred during the strike is before an arbitration board.

The union has also paid $350,000 in fines.

Another jail guard involved with strike was fired last week. Smith said he was fired for activities that took place before the strike occurred.

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