“The Pallister government is once again coming after Manitoba’s workers and their unions. Bill 16 is particularly offensive in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as front-line workers are risking their lives to provide crucial public services to Manitobans.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (27 Oct. 2020) — The Pallister government has introduced a bill that represents an attack on unions and workers’ rights.
Bill 16, The Labour Relations Amendment Act, would bring a number of changes to Manitoba’s labour legislation. It was introduced in the provincial legislature on October 14.
Undermining workers’ collective power
Of particular concern is that the legislation would eliminate binding arbitration for contract disputes, except for a first collective agreement. This change could drag out strikes and lockouts indefinitely, which favours employers.
The bill would also make it easier for employers to fire striking workers for misconduct (CTV News). The current legislation permits employers to refuse to reinstate workers due to strike-related misconduct if their actions constitute just cause for termination and result in a criminal conviction. Bill 16 would remove the requirement for a criminal conviction.
Attacking public sector unions
The bill would make it easier to decertify workplaces. The bill lowers the threshold that would trigger a decertification vote.
It would also require public sector unions to provide audited financial statements to members with or without a request being made. They would also be required to provide a compensation statement, including the compensation given directly or indirectly to their officers and staff whose compensation is $75,000 per year or more.
Labour movement united against these attacks
The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU/NUPGE) has spoken out against the proposed legislation on its social media. The MGEU/NUPGE has pointed out how the proposed changes will undermine workers’ rights.
The Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) has also condemned the bill for undermining public sector unions. Kevin Rebeck, President of the MFL, characterized the Pallister government’s actions as “petty,” especially because coming just after the labour movement’s successful legal fight against the wage freeze legislation.
“The Pallister government is once again coming after Manitoba’s workers and their unions,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “Bill 16 is particularly offensive in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as front-line workers are risking their lives to provide crucial public services to Manitobans.”
NUPGE adds its voice to those condemning this legislation and stands behind the MGEU/NUPGE and in solidarity with all Manitoba’s workers and unions.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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