The MGEU’s Civil Service Bargaining Committee, on behalf of over 12,000 members who provide Manitoba with public services – ranging from flood control and forest fire suppression, to public health inspections, workplace safety and health enforcement, highway maintenance, and corrections services – has decided to file for arbitration.
Pursuing arbitration means an independent third-party will hear arguments from both sides and then determine a contract settlement.
“Very soon after our Civil Service agreement expired on March 31, we sat down with the employer to begin negotiations in good faith,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “However, these negotiations were immediately frustrated by the employer’s refusal to discuss wages and benefits.”
This is particularly concerning because Bill 28, the government’s unproclaimed wage freeze law, has been negatively impacting bargaining tables across the public sector.
“The government’s refusal to even discuss wages and benefits is extremely disrespectful to all who’ve come to the table in good faith and who work hard every day for Manitobans,” Gawronsky added. “We’ve begun working with legal counsel to prepare our presentation to the arbitrator on behalf of our Civil Service members. But as this work continues, our Bargaining Committee remains open to reaching a negotiated settlement. We are prepared to meet with the government if they are willing to discuss wages and benefits and resume fair and meaningful talks."
A court hearing challenging the constitutionality of Bill 28 –
spearheaded by the Manitoba Federation of Labour, the MGEU, and other public
sector unions – will proceed as scheduled this coming fall.