"We agree with economists and so many in our community who are saying the Premier's cuts and mass layoffs are wrong for Manitoba, particularly as officials are starting to talk about reopening the economy." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (24 April 2020) — Many Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) members received a memo from the Deputy Secretary of Cabinet and the Civil Service Commissioner, notifying them that, “layoff notices may be issued while discussions continue and options continue to be explored.”
Government using pandemic as an excuse to push cuts
Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President immediately responded, saying this Premier seems intent on ignoring community leaders and imposing his way, no matter who gets hurt.
"We agree with economists and so many in our community who are saying the Premier's cuts and mass layoffs are wrong for Manitoba, particularly as officials are starting to talk about reopening the economy," Gawronsky said. "But the threatening memo sent [this week] is just more evidence that he seems committed to using the pandemic as an excuse to implement cuts to public services and jobs."
MGEU/NUPGE urges redeployment over cuts
Knowing that the Premier seems likely to impose his way regardless of who it hurts, she said the union is engaging with his officials on options to minimize the impact on our members.
"In those instances where there is less work, we have urged the province to redeploy public workers to assist with the COVID-19 challenge," she said. "For example, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries redeployed several of our members from the casinos to liquor stores where they have been helping with organizing social distancing, bottle delivery, repackaging, and sanitizing."
The City of Winnipeg has redeployed many of its staff to help encourage social distancing in City Park, and the federal government is using the Mint's staff and facility to produce hand sanitizer.
Manitoba government refuses to engage in honest dialogue
Gawronsky said MGEU/NUPGE believes that before looking at layoffs, the province should be redeploying its workforce to help meet the challenges posed by the pandemic rather than engaging in sweeping layoffs and cuts.
"As we’ve said before, discussions with the province have been made very difficult by the government's refusal to provide any details about their proposals," she said.
MGEU/NUPGE encourages members to continue to share their concerns and priorities with their union.
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