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‘Phoenix-style problems’: Alberta union says payroll issues affecting government workers

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CALGARY —
A new program introduced last month to take care of paying government workers isn’t doing the job it should and employees are now short money, an Alberta union says.

The software, called 1GX, was installed in December and the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) says it’s “causing chaos.”

It says the issues are reminiscent of Ottawa’s Phoenix payroll system, which affected thousands of workers with the federal government.

“I know the UCP government likes to blame the federal government for all its woes, but this time it seems to have decided to mimic the problems created by Ottawa’s Phoenix payroll system,” said Susan Slade, AUPE vice-president in a statement.

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The union accuses the government of rolling out 1GX before it was ready and before it could properly train workers and managers to use it. The software appears not to be able to handle the work it was designed for, Slade says.

“It is clearly incapable of handling the complexity of a large, complex workforce with members working a vast variety of different jobs and different shifts.”

The union, which represents 20,000 workers who are directly employed by the government, estimates that as a result of 1GX’s issues, as many as 5,000 employees may be owed money or have experienced problems.

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The union is working with the Alberta government to resolve the problem before it becomes widespread, but says it has been around for a while.

An email sent from management on Jan. 8 and acquired by the AUPE said it was aware of issues with the system but gave no estimated time on when it would be fixed.

Slade calls the error and the government’s inaction “a slap in the face” to public-sector employees.

“They should not have to fight to get the money they are owed. They have bills to pay and need the money,” she says.

“It’s bad enough that these dedicated workers have to go to work every day enduring attacks from the government, facing thousands of job losses and attempts to slash their wages, but to not pay them for their work is insulting.”

CTV News has reached out to the Alberta government for comment on the alleged payroll issues.

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