Staff on strike at 7 prisons in western Canada

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) - Employees at seven prisons Canada's Alberta province have walked off the job to protest the suspension of one of their 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, said Bill Dechant, a spokesman for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents jail guards. Dechant said the union will ask its members if they want to comply with the order.

It wasn't immediately clear what would happen at the other facilities involved in the strike. Josh Stewart, a spokesman for the province's solicitor general, said the labor board would discuss the situation at those other facilities 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, Smith said.

Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis called the strike illegal. He said the centers are being "securely operated through the assistance of police and management."

Several hundred members of various unions protested Saturday outside the labor board's offices in Edmonton, many chanting "Shame" when they heard the ruling. Others called for a general strike.

"These workers did the brave thing, they did the right thing, for demanding a safe workplace and for standing up for their fellow workers who were disciplined for having the audacity to demand a safe workplace," said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Spy Gadgets
    A big collection of equipment that would make James Bond envious is on display in Seattle

  • Grab Brunch
    Find a good spot for your Sunday brunch

  • Week in Photos
    Holy Week, white tiger's reflection, and Easter goes to the fishes make up this week's photos
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.