Town of Ponoka workers vote to strike

By Sheldon Spackman
June 14, 2018 - 4:50pm

Unionized workers with the Town of Ponoka have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action 

In a release, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says more than 60 of its members who work for the Town held a strike vote on Wednesday.

AUPE officials say the strie vote was held after Ponoka town council failed to approve an agreement reached by the union and town administration in May with the help of an independent third-party mediator.

“These members, who work and live in the community, keep utilities operating, water flowing, offices humming, and neighbourhoods in Ponoka vibrant and exciting,” said AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers. “They deserve a fair collective agreement that values and respects the important work they do every day for the community of Ponoka.

“We shook hands on a fair agreement with the town administration only to have it struck down by mayor and council, which was a first,” added Weiers. “Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett says he is opposed to the negotiated severance package for staff, but he recently brought his own notice of motion to town council looking for a severance package for himself and other elected town officials.”

Weiers says the agreement would give workers the same days off currently enjoyed by the mayor and town council.

“Our goal is to reach an agreement at the bargaining table,” said Weiers. “A strike is always the last resort, but we’ve been forced into this situation because of the actions of town council.”

Town of Ponoka CAO Albert Flootman says in a release the Town is prepared for strike action and has a contingency plan in place to ensure the municipality continues to function and provide essential services to residents.

“Official results of the strike vote have not been released at this time, so any information that is being reported in the media has not been confirmed by the Labour Relations Board,” says Flootman. Once the official results are released, the Town will distribute a public statement informing residents and the media of the official results.”

Flootman points out that as of 1:00 p.m. Thursday, the Town had received no information about the results of the strike vote from either the AUPE or the Labour Relations Board.

AUPE officials say the Town of Ponoka staff they represent are now in a position to serve 72-hours’ strike notice. The option to serve strike notice will remain valid for 120 days.

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