01/24/2013 12:14 EST | Updated 03/25/2013 05:12 EDT

Strike And Lockout Notices Served At Symphony Senior Living Aspen Ridge Facility


RED DEER, Alta. - A company that operates an assisted-living seniors' facility in Red Deer, Alta., says it is responding to a strike notice with a lockout notice.

Symphony Senior Living Aspen Ridge had been told by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees that 130 licensed practical nurses, health care aides and other staff would walk off the job Friday.

Company officials say in a news release they have been in negotiations with the union for the last 18 months and offered a wage increase of more than five per cent.

The company says the union is asking for an increase of more than 30 per cent over four years to bring workers' wages in line with those earned at hospitals and nursing homes.

AUPE president Guy Smith says Symphony's Ontario-based owners have told the union they cannot operate without a 30 to 40 per cent profit.

Smith says that means less spending on caregivers and other essentials.

"Care needs to come first. That’s what these caregivers are fighting for,” said Smith. "They deserve to be treated fairly and equally in their collective agreement."

Smith said the union will offer "life-and-limb support" to residents in case of emergencies.

Symphony's news release said the company's priority is "the well-being, safety and peace-of-mind of the residents and provision of consistent, quality service."

It said during the strike/lockout, management will oversee all aspects of the daily operation and has contracted with an outside agency to provide the services normally provided by permanent employees.