Another Legal Win! Court of Appeal confirms MGEU’s right to Interest Arbitration for Civil Service
Apr 15, 2021
The Court of Appeal confirmed this week that the MGEU had a right to have an interest arbitration board appointed to determine the terms and conditions of the next Civil Service collective agreement.
“This victory means that MGEU Civil Service members will finally get a fair hearing before an independent arbitration board,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “After a terribly frustrating couple of years, this is an opportunity we are eager and ready to undertake on their behalf.”
current Civil Service collective agreement expired in March 2019 and
negotiations began in April 2019. From the outset, the MGEU made it
that, given the government’s wage freeze legislation (Bill 28), the
union needed to know if there was any possibility the employer would
negotiate wage increases that exceed the wage freezes and caps set out
in Bill 28 (which has since been ruled unconstitutional).
negotiators never answered this critical
question,” Gawronsky said. “They also told us that if we filed to have
the contract settled by an independent arbitrator, anything the employer
at the bargaining table up to that point would be withdrawn. We decided
that further bargaining in this situation would not be productive and
that the best path to a fair contract was to file for arbitration.”
In summer 2019, MGEU’s Civil Service Bargaining Committee exercised its right under The Civil Service Act to file for arbitration. However, instead of following the Act, the Minister refused to proceed with the arbitration process, claiming that he had discretion not to, and that the union’s request was premature.
“This left us with no choice but to go to court to ensure our members’ rights were respected,” Gawronsky said. “As we expected, the Court of Queen’s Bench agreed with us and ordered the Minister to appoint an interest arbitration board, calling the Minister’s argument “disingenuous at best.” She granted an order requiring the board be appointed and for the government to pay legal costs to the MGEU. Shockingly, the government still refused to do the right thing.”
summer, the government appealed the court decision, delaying things
even further. The Court of Appeal heard arguments in December 2020 and
released its decision this week. The Minister’s appeal was dismissed, the court
order to appoint an arbitration board was confirmed, and the Minister
must pay court costs to the MGEU.
“At this point, we’re relieved to finally be able to focus on the arbitration hearing scheduled for this September,” Gawronsky said. “We will argue for a fair and reasonable collective agreement for those who serve and support Manitobans every day. It’s not too much to ask, and as we’ve seen, it is our members' legal right to have that opportunity.”