“It’s vital in this round of bargaining that our members reach a deal that protects and respects the kind of public services that Manitobans value.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (21 Oct. 2015) — The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) Civil Service Bargaining Committee will be hitting the road the week of October 26 to 30 in an effort to rally MGEU/NUPGE membership and meet with Manitoba MLAs in their ongoing efforts to reach a fair settlement with the government.
MGEU/NUPGE still open to settlement at the bargaining table with Manitoba government
“Although the Civil Service Bargaining Committee decided to file for arbitration this past summer, their goal has always been to get back to the table,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “Even after arbitration hearing dates were set for May 2016, they continued to work to keep the pressure on government, arguing that a negotiated deal is always preferable to one that has been imposed.”
After many delays at the bargaining table since negotiations began, the government finally offered civil service members a four-year agreement with a one per cent raise in each of the first two years, and two per cent in each of the last two years. Most public service groups, however, (the City of Winnipeg, the Colleges, the nurses, to name a few) that have been in bargaining with government received more generous settlements.
“Our question has always been, why is the Province’s own workforce worth any less?” Gawronsky said.
Tell your MLA a fair and reasonable offer is the right thing to do
Over the last few months, the Bargaining Committee gathered nearly 6,000 online petition signatures in support of a fair wage offer for the provincial civil service, and union leadership delivered those signatures to Finance Minister Greg Dewar and to the Minister Responsible for the Civil Service, Kerri Irvin-Ross, on October 6.
Fair Deal campaign to pressure government to get back to bargaining
“The Fair Deal campaign is an effort to keep up the pressure on our leaders,” Gawronsky said, “encouraging all members to stand up and ask their elected officials: Why must Manitoba’s Civil Service go through the delay and expense of an arbitration hearing, when a fair deal, with a fair wage increase, is not too much to ask at the bargaining table?”
This question is being asked not only on behalf of the MGEU’s Civil Service Components, but other MGEU/NUPGE members as well, Gawronsky added. What the civil service members achieve has significant implications for several other bargaining units, ranging from Manitoba Housing, to Southeast Child and Family Services, to the Falcon Lake Golf Course.
MGEU/NUPGE members agreed to accept wage freezes to help deal with provincial deficit; still being asked to do more with less
“In the last round of bargaining, those who work for Manitobans accepted wage freezes to do their part in tackling the deficit,” she said. “That means nearly 20,000 working Manitoba families saw their income actually fall. Add to that the fact that over the last several years, these same workers are being asked to do more, with less. Positions are not filled when staff leave, and though the need for service may increase, there is not necessarily new hiring. Our members are proud of the services they provide, but stress and burnout have become a sad reality of the job. A fair and reasonable offer won’t fix everything, but at least these members will know their employer is ready to treat them with fairness and respect.”
According to government records, there are 600 fewer civil service employees providing services today than there were four years ago.
“On top of this, some of Manitoba’s political leaders are now talking privatization,” Gawronsky said. “It’s vital in this round of bargaining that our members reach a deal that protects and respects the kind of public services that Manitobans value.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE