Alberta prison staff on strike

SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2013

EDMONTON, Alberta – Employees at seven prisons in Alberta have walked off the job to protest the suspension of a colleague who complained about safety issues.

The Alberta labor board ruled Saturday that the strike is illegal for two of the detention centers and ordered those workers to return to their posts. Bill Dechant, a spokesman for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents jail guards, said the union will ask its members if they want to comply with the order.

Josh Stewart, a spokesman for the province’s solicitor general, said the labor board would discuss the situation at the other facilities involved in the strike later Saturday.

The dispute began at the Edmonton Remand Centre on Friday after a correctional worker was suspended. Seventy workers who arrived for the Friday afternoon shift refused to go inside, prompting officials to put the facility into lockdown and restrict prisoners to their cells.

Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Public Employees, said the suspension was the last straw for correctional officers who have complained about the design of the detention center. Employees at seven other detention centers had joined the strike Saturday.

Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said the centers are being “securely operated through the assistance of police and management.”


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