MGEU calls out Pallister Government’s Privatization in MB Infrastructure and VEMA, files grievance against employer
May 14, 2021
The MGEU is once again calling on the Pallister government to share with its employees, and all Manitobans, details about their privatization plans for Manitoba Infrastructure (MI) and the Vehicle and Equipment Management Agency (VEMA).
This week, President Michelle Gawronsky, told the Minister of Central Services, Reg Helwer, and the Minister of Infrastructure, Ron Schuler, that they must deal with the issues MGEU has raised on behalf of its members regarding understaffing, unfilled vacancies, contracting out, and the ongoing restructuring in MI and VEMA.
“MGEU members [in MI and VEMA] have seen staffing levels drop considerably in the past couple of years. Those who are left are constantly being told to do more with less,” she said. “It’s right out of the privatization playbook to starve a public service like this to the point where the government says their only option is to further contract out and privatize. What’s really disturbing is that this continues during the pandemic, a time when Manitoba families need employment more than ever.”
The MGEU has also filed a grievance against the Manitoba government’s efforts to starve VEMA and MI, while slowly privatizing the agency and the department.
The grievance states that the employer has deliberately undermined the ability of employees in the Infrastructure & Transportation and VEMA departments to deliver services “to the detriment of, and in violation of, the rights of employees covered by the Collective Agreement...”
The Civil Service Annual Report shows that MI had 440 fewer employees in 2019/20 than the department had in 2016/17 and VEMA’s annual report shows the agency had 82 vacancies as of March 2020.
“The theme has been to privatize, contract out, and cut for the past few years,” said Gawronsky, while adding that there are important reasons to keep these services for Manitoba’s bridges, highways, snow clearing, and vehicle maintenance public.
“VEMA was created to keep the province’s vehicles safe and save taxpayer dollars. And it’s done that. But the Pallister government has decided it’s better to send this work to private companies. The overall lack of transparency from them surrounding this is extremely concerning for our members and all Manitobans. What exactly is motivating the government here?”
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