On March 20, Brian Pallister’s government introduced two bills that attack workers and their fundamental labour rights. The legislation calls for wide-reaching restrictions on bargaining and collective agreements and provides broad powers for the government that would normally be reserved for the Manitoba Labour Board.
“We’re disappointed that this government didn’t pay attention to the options labour provided for returning to balance, and instead chose to contravene the fundamental principles of collective bargaining,” said Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC Prairie Region. “If there are savings to be had, those negotiations should be done at the bargaining table.”
PSAC is actively working with other unions in Manitoba. Our priority is to ensure that members continue to be represented and that we stand in solidarity with other unions.
Bill 28: The Public Services Sustainability Act
The Public Services Sustainability Act mandates a two-year wage freeze, followed by maximum annual increases of 0.75% and 1.0% in years three and four. This applies to all employees employed in or by: the provincial government; a health organization—including Deer Lodge Centre where over 500 PSAC members work; post-secondary institutions—including the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University where hundreds of PSAC members are employed as academic capacity workers; and several other agencies, authorities and organizations. Instead of allowing savings and efficiencies to be found at the bargaining table, this government is imposing their agenda and mandating that it has to be on wages.
Bill 29: The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act
The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act provides for the creation of seven bargaining units for each health region. This will force unions to re-organize their own members and is a blatant attempt to pit unions against one another. Despite having only just begun discussions with labour, the government felt the need to ram through legislation, making it very clear they’re not interested in what we have to say. Members should be entitled to stay with the union that they chose and we will do everything to support our members at Deer Lodge Centre who are directly impacted by this attack.
Manitoba’s Finance Minister invited labour to participate in a process to find new ways to balance the budget. PSAC and the Manitoba Federation of Labour approached this process with an open-mind and a constructive approach. But increasingly, it appeared that the Pallister government wasn’t all that interested in taking a balanced approach. Like the last PC government, Brian Pallister seems to only be focused on cuts.
In a recent letter from a senior staff person to the Manitoba Federation of Labour, the government said that they are considering:
- Reducing work weeks: “Filmon Fridays” all over again.
- Reopening already signed collective agreements.
- Making changes to pensions.
- Imposing predetermined wage settlements—after the Premier gave himself a 20% raise.