Labour leaders concerned about lack of meaningful dialogue on legislation

“We will continue pushing hard for alternatives to disruptive health restructuring and any measures which don’t respect the collective bargaining rights of our members.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President

Winnipeg (17 May 2017) — So much for the Premier’s commitment to “teamwork.”

That’s how dozens of Manitobans felt aimmediately following the committee presentations when sharing their concerns and alternatives to the problematic Bills 28 and 29, which were passed through the committee. Bill 28 impacts the Public Service Sustainability Act as it restricts the right to bargain collectively. Bill 29, the Health Care Bargaining Review Act, will make significant changes to heatlh care services across the province.

Despite it being unconstitutional, Manitoba government strips workers of right to bargain

“This is not a good day for Manitobans,” said Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). “The Health Care Bargaining Review Act [Bill 29] is a solution in search of a problem. It’s distracting us all from what should be our focus, which is the very best patient care possible. As for Bill 28, taking away your own employees’ rights to bargain collectively is both unconstitutional, and unnecessary.”

Gawronsky told the government committee that it should practice what it preaches and allow their public employees to negotiate a fair deal.

“The Premier has said his government would protect frontline services and the people who provide them. He likes to talk about the collaborative spirit of Manitobans, or “teamwork.” But the Public Services Sustainability Act [Bill 28] is quite the opposite.”

MGEU/NUPGE members stand up for Manitobans as part of solution

Gawronsky said when faced with challenges, MGEU/NUPGE members have shown that they are willing to step up on behalf of Manitobans and be part of the solution.

“These workers have already had 2 years of zeros at the bargaining table. And the reality is, in order to maintain quality public services there must be investment in the people who provide the service. Recruitment and retention have become a major problem in several sectors — like home care or technical professional or child welfare — where people feel undervalued and overworked.”

Free collective bargaining is good for the province

Gawronsky asked the committee to reconsider Bill 28 and respect the rights of MGEU/NUPGE members to freely engage in collective bargaining. 

“It’s good for services, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for Manitoba.”

Broken election promise as government prepares to make cuts to health care services

She also told them their Health Care Bargaining Review Act is a step backward, that breaks key election promises.

“Our members take great pride in providing quality public services, but resources are stretched thin and people are already being asked to do more with less. This government promised Manitobans that they would protect front-line services, which means investing to alleviate some of this stress. Instead, with Bill 29, they’re focusing on a highly disruptive and unnecessary restructuring of bargaining processes that are already streamlined.”

“We will continue pushing hard for alternatives to disruptive health restructuring and any measures which don’t respect the collective bargaining rights of our members.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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