EDMONTON - An Alberta judge has issued a temporary stay on legislation that would impose a contract on 22,000 government workers at the end of the month if a negotiated deal isn't reached.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is challenging the Public Service Salary Restraint Act in Court of Queen's Bench.

A union official says the Court of Queen's Bench judge has put the legislation on hold until Feb. 14 at noon to give him time to consider all the arguments presented in the case.

The union contends the law that was passed quickly just last month amounts to unfair bargaining and breaches the union's charter rights.

Government workers in Alberta have not had the legal right to strike since 1977, but until last month had the right to send contract disputes to binding arbitration.

The salary restraint law would impose a four-year contract with frozen wages in the first two years, followed by one per cent hikes in each of the following two.

AUPE president Guy Smith said the union was pleased with Tuesday's court's decision.

"While it isn't a comment on the merits of our case, it does mean the matter is of sufficient complexity that the court needs time to write its decision."

The stay does not permit AUPE to proceed to arbitration at this time.

"Today's decision doesn't mean we've won the day. But we have resolved to make every effort to stop this legislation and restore our members' rights," Smith said.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • No increases in overall day-to-day spending, but revenue shortfall means a $2-billion deficit.

  • $4.3-billion in borrowing for roads, schools and hospitals.

  • Total revenue of $38.6 billion.

  • No new or increased taxes.

  • Health spending to increase by three per cent to $17.1 billion.

  • $2-billion in government operating grants to post-secondary institutions cut by almost seven per cent.

  • Expected resource revenue of $7.3 billion, half of what was originally expected, due to lower prices for oilsands bitumen.

  • New legislation to mandate that portion of non-renewable resource revenue be put into savings.

  • No layoffs planned beyond previously announced 480 government management positions.

  • No extra money for doctors, teachers, nurses or other government workers who are now in contract negotiations with the province.

  • Population expected to grow by 99,000 this year.