In response to Premier Pallister’s announcement earlier this week that his government plans to reduce the workweek for some provincial employees, MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky wrote to the Premier today, arguing that public employees are going to need a lot more information before any decisions can be made.
"At the high-level meeting on Tuesday, unions were told that they would need to respond within a week. This timeline is clearly unreasonable given the government’s inability to provide even basic information about its proposal,” she wrote.
As part of his austerity plan, Pallister said his government would be urging the Federal government to relax EI eligibility rules in order to allow core government civil servants to access federal work share programs the way other workers have been able to during the pandemic. He talked with the unions about fiscal pressures and requested that MGEU members consider workforce reduction proposals for so-called “non-essential” workers. He also said government officials would be contacting the MGEU to discuss these austerity measures in more detail.
Since then, however, the MGEU, which represents over 11,000 Civil Service employees in the province, has asked government officials repeatedly to provide more information about which “non-essential” workers would be affected, how many, and for how long. But officials have refused to provide those details.
“When it comes to civil service, we haven't been provided with any answers in writing about which government workers they want to deem ‘non-essential,’ or roughly how many would be impacted,” says Gawronsky. “It’s quite possible that when they thought up this plan that they themselves didn’t have the answers to those questions. But it’s very difficult to have a meaningful conversation about this with so many unknowns. Our members deserve to know what they are being asked to consider and Manitobans have a right to know what services they rely on are at risk.”
In the letter, she made it clear that it was impossible for the union to proceed with what little information they have.
“Mr. Premier, if you are serious about your proposals, it is incumbent upon you and your officials to present the necessary information for a meaningful discussion, and to provide reasonable timelines for our union to consult with our members about proposals that would have significant and far-reaching implications for their lives and the public services they deliver.”
Gawronsky also added that the problem extends beyond the Civil Service, where employers have told the MGEU that they cannot provide meaningful details until their proposals have been approved by Treasury Board.

This story was posted on April 17, 2020. Because this situation is evolving rapidly, we encourage you to visit the MGEU's COVID-19 Information page for the latest information.