Members of MGEU Local 143, who provide custodial services within the Seine River School Division (SRSD), have served formal notice that they intend to begin strike action at 8 am on Monday, February 12, 2024.
These 47 members have been working with an expired contract since July 2021. As the MGEU has seen at other bargaining tables over the past year, members are focused on negotiating wage increases that would help all members to catch up for ground lost during the previous contract (which included two years of frozen wages), and to keep up with the rising cost of living.
“Custodial staff work hard to ensure our kids have clean and safe learning environments,” said MGEU President Kyle Ross. “They are key players on the education team, and they should be treated with respect and fairness. That includes fair wage increases that help all members catch up and keep up with the rising cost of living.”
SRSD’s current wage offer would provide members with general wage increases of just 9.8% over 4 years, which would amount to approximately a $2 increase over the life of the agreement. Members voted to reject this offer on December 9, 2023, and voted overwhelming for strike action on December 23, 2023.
Both sides returned to the table this week, but SRSD refused to change the offer members already rejected.
SRSD recently learned it will receive a 5.8% funding increase from the province this year, but still, it’s offering its custodial staff average annual wage increases of just 2.45% per year, less than half of the funding increase it will receive.
“This division can afford fair wages that close the already massive gap between wages for these workers and their counterparts next door in Winnipeg,” added Ross. “We know a deal can be reached at the table. We proved that with many groups this past year. That’s why we have agreed to engage a conciliator to help reach an agreement. Having said that, our bargaining committee believes strike action is necessary because the division has refused to change the unfair offer that members already rejected in December.”