On behalf of hard-working members at the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC), the MGEU is challenging Premier Pallister’s comments today that layoffs there are justified because there is “not enough work for everyone.”

“I don’t know where the Premier gets his facts, but the reality is our members at MASC are as busy as ever; in fact, MASC is currently looking to fill positions for agricultural adjustors and hiring summer students to help out,” MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky said. “Our farmers are facing unprecedented challenges right now and need these services more than ever. This is our bread and butter.”

MASC recently notified the union of up to 40 layoffs in the unit where workers administer a broad range of risk management and financing options to support Manitoba’s farmers.

Shortly afterward, employer representatives told the MGEU that about a dozen lay-offs were certain and that, in order to minimize further layoffs, MASC workers in the Administration unit would also be required to take 35 unpaid days off in the current year.

“This amounts to a fifteen per cent pay cut,” Gawronsky said, “and our members were given a very short time to decide whether or not to agree to this.”

In a letter to the group, Jared Munro, President and CEO, told affected workers that MASC has been required by government to reduce workforce expenses by 20% as part of its effort to cut spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gawronsky sent her own letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development yesterday, calling on the government to reverse this arbitrary and reckless cut.

“It makes no sense to reduce work days for staff who are very busy delivering important public services,” Gawronsky said. “It is even more absurd to impose layoffs or work reductions on permanent employees with mortgages to pay and families to support while hiring summer students.”

The MGEU is also investigating other means to address these issues, including utilizing the grievance procedure.