Ponoka Civic Centre

AUPE says Town of Ponoka’s proposed contract for union employees ‘insulting’

Workers plan to attend council on May 10

This story has been updated to include a statement from the Town of Ponoka.

Town of Ponoka union employees planned to attend the May 10 council meeting to voice their concerns over the bargaining of their contracts.

According to a release from the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) dated May 9, negotiations have been ongoing over the last two-and-a-half years. AUPE represents workers at the Town of Ponoka.

AUPE said while a small delegation of workers was going to the meeting to ask questions during the public forum portion of the meeting, their intent was not to be disruptive.

The town’s latest proposal is offering the workers a five-year contract with two years of zero salary increases followed by three years with a one per cent pay raise.

“It’s just insulting,” said Bonnie Gostola, vice president of AUPE in the release. “Many of these workers have been with the Town of Ponoka for a long time. Is this how we thank them?”

Gostola also planned to attend the meeting.

“The town has raised taxes and utility costs, which their employees also have to pay, in the midst of runaway inflation driving up the cost of living. If wages don’t keep up, these workers will struggle to make ends meet.”

According to AUPE, the town has not agreed to increase benefits either, which workers have asked for.

“Enough is enough. It’s time for the town to settle a fair contract for their employees,” said Gostola . “They have worked hard to keep Ponoka running during the pandemic, and they deserve recognition.”

“The Town of Ponoka continues to bargain in good faith with the union and we remain hopeful that we can work toward an acceptable agreement within the established bargaining process,” read a statement from the town on May 10 regarding the current labour negotiations with AUPE.

The council meeting will take place at the Civic Centre, beginning at 7 p.m.

More to come …

Editor’s note: The town’s May 10 council meeting took place after press time. Ponoka News will follow up on this story.