Strike continues for MGEU members at Liquor and Lotteries

MGEU member, woman, standing beside w shalf of wine bottle in a Liquor Mart

July 20 2023

Members of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU/NUPGE) who work for the publicly owned crown corporation, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, are entering Day 2 of strike action. Over 1,400 members have been without a collective agreement since March 2022.

Workers press for wages that keep up with inflation

MGEU/NUPGE members began strike action with a 1-day province-wide walkout on July 19 to highlight the struggle they are having at the bargaining table. Workers at the Liquor Distribution Centre remain off the job on July 20 to continue the pressure on the employer to return to the table to negotiate a fair and reasonable wage offer. All members will be refusing overtime until further notice.

“These workers were deemed essential during the pandemic, ” said Bert Blundon, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “We support our members in their fight to achieve a collective agreement that recognizes their value, and provides wages and working conditions that doesn’t put them further and further behind.”

Employer offer puts workers further behind

The employer has offered minor wage increases of 2% per year over 4 years. For those at the bottom end of the wage scale, with a starting wage of $14.91 per hour, the offer included a little extra to keep them in line with minimum wage increases. As we know, that barely keeps up with the cost of living.

That offer does nothing to rectify the lost ground from the last contract where wages were frozen for 2 years, and then capped at 0.75% and 1% in the next 2 years. It also doesn’t address the recruitment and retention issues that plague the workforce, as more and more workers move to the private sector for higher wages.

In contrast, the Premier and cabinet members have given themselves a raise of 3.3%, 3.6%, and 3.6% over 3 years.

According to a CBC news report, the President and CEO reported that the crown corporation would finish the year with record profits. This is in addition to the profits of 2021-22 that amounted to $597.8 million.

Bargaining is set to resume on Friday, July 21.