COVID-19 Update #5 - Working for you during these trying times
Mar 26, 2020
This update was posted on March 26, 2020. Because this situation is evolving rapidly, we encourage you to visit the MGEU's COVID-19 Information page for the most up-to-date information.
These are trying times for Manitobans, but as always, MGEU members have risen to the challenge, continuing to deliver the public services that all Manitobans rely on.
Understandably, members like you have many questions about your job and your safety at work during this pandemic. You may be changing shifts or working remotely. You may be going to work, but with changes intended to protect you and others. You may have been laid off or had your hours cut back.
We have fielded thousands of calls, emails, and messages over these past few weeks, and are focused on resolving the most pressing issues facing members during this pandemic. Here is how we’ve been working for you:
1. Health and safety first!
The health and safety of MGEU members and all Manitobans are our top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. MGEU representatives have been actively working with members, employers, and health and safety committees to ensure the latest, up to-date guidelines from Manitoba’s public health officials are being followed in member workplaces. This includes pressing employers to change the way members work and implementing additional protective measures where appropriate (such as implementing safe work procedures, training, and making sure recommended personal protective equipment, like gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer is always available). If there are additional protections that you believe your employer should be implementing, please make sure you let your employer know right away, and contact us for help.
2. More flexibility in workplacesThis pandemic makes balancing our home and work lives more difficult than ever. From the outset of the COVID-19 threat in Manitoba, we have urged employers to maximize social distancing in the workplace by promoting working-from-home arrangements wherever possible. We have pushed employers to provide more flexibility in working hours, and we continue to work with employers to make flexible arrangements for those who must self-isolate or care for family at this time. However, some employers have been more understanding and cooperative in this regard than others. If you need us to speak with your employer about more flexible arrangements for members in your workplace, please contact us.
We have also supported the call from the Manitoba Federation of Labour for the provincial government to implement 14 days of paid leave for all workers who must miss work for pandemic-related reasons.
For more information about the Federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) please review our guide: What to do if you must be off work.
3. Standing up for workers impacted by layoffs or reduced hoursMany Manitoba workplaces have already closed during this pandemic and more will likely close in the coming weeks. Many workers have seen their hours significantly cut back. In these workplaces, we have been pressing employers to redeploy members whose regular jobs have been interrupted, and to negotiate the best possible supports for members who have not been redeployed. MGEU has also been vocal and public in calling on our Premier (view Letter 1 to the Premier and Letter 2 to the Premier on this issue) to partner with the federal government to top up Employment Insurance benefits for those impacted by layoffs. In recent days, this position has been backed by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and a growing coalition of national business organizations.
Please send a message to the Premier and add your voice in support of EI top up, to help working families who have lost so much income to the pandemic, and to help our economy weather this storm.
4. Adjusting how we work for youMembers need support from our union more than ever. That’s why MGEU has made several adjustments to how we provide service during the pandemic – so that we can continue to serve members while meeting the health and safety guidelines established by Manitoba public health officials. This includes conducting meetings with employers and members by video or teleconference, postponing non-essential meetings and events, ensuring as many MGEU staff as possible are working remotely, and restricting access to MGEU offices.
This is a challenging time for all Manitobans – the COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing we’ve seen before – but we know MGEU members are up to the task.
If you have any questions about what is happening in your workplace, please review the Frequently Asked Questions on our COVID-19 Info page. If you don’t find the answer to your question there, please contact our Resource Centre.