May 26th, 2024

CUPE workers protest lack of wage increase at premier’s office

By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on March 22, 2024.

CUPE members share their frustration over a lack of wage increases in a rally held outside Danielle Smith's constituency office in Medicine Hat on Thursday.--SUBMITTED PHOTO

CUPE Alberta and local CUPE workers shared their frustration with the underfunding of public services Thursday at Danelle Smith’s constituency office.

Dozens of protesters stood outside the premier’s Medicine Hat office with representatives from local CUPE workers, provincial and national CUPE workers, members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and health services members and frontline workers all rallied to talk about the impacts of low-wage policy.

“There was nobody in the office, of course,” Lou Arab, a communications representative with CUPE said.

He says Thursday’s rally was part of an 18-stop “Waging Ahead” campaign for wage increases in line with inflation. The tour revolved around CUPE speaking with local members across Alberta to get their feedback on how wages are impacting them and what they believe the organizations next steps should be.

“We’re looking to expand (on) that,” Arab said. “We’ve talked to our members about taking more actions and then the next step is to take those actions.”

Arab estimated there are more than 2,000 CUPE workers in the City of Medicine Hat. They’ve made multiple stops in the city to hear from their members and share in the frustration of a lack of inflationary raises.

He says some members in the education sector have not seen a wage increase in eight years or more.

“Their ability to keep up with the cost of living just gets further and further and further behind,” Arab said. “The wage rates that the government is offering and marketing don’t even begin to make up for for that lost ground.”

Arab says they are working toward more rallies and protests but could not make an announcement on those at this time. He says they will keep talking with the Alberta government and their members until wages are made fair or further action has to be taken on their part.

“What’s next for CUPE is that we will continue bargaining with the government,” Arab said. “But we will also continue to talk to our members about the need for better wages and the need to take whatever actions up to and including strike action to better wage agreements.

The annual convention of the Alberta division of CUPE is being held in Medicine Hat this week.

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