The Canadian Labour Congress is urging Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to bargain in good faith with the province’s public sector workers instead of compromising basic collective bargaining rights.
On the last day of the spring legislature sitting last week, the Manitoba Progressive Conservative government rammed through wage freeze legislation that affects the rights of public sector workers in the province, including those working in health care, public education, social services, and Crown corporation staff.
“Instead of good faith negotiations, Manitoba has chosen heavy-handed legislation that denies 120,000 public sector workers the right to collectively bargain wages for years,” said Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff.
This legislation is only one piece in a series of attacks on workers and their families. The Manitoba government also introduced legislation to restructure health care bargaining units, giving an appointed and unaccountable commissioner sweeping powers to supersede even the provincial Labour Board.
“Manitoba’s unions developed an alternative proposal to bargain through a health care union council, which would increase efficiency while still allowing workers to keep the union they choose. But again, the Pallister government has chosen to dictate rather than talk,” said Yussuff.
Yussuff pointed to a Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that found the BC government had violated the guarantee of freedom of association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it passed legislation infringing on BC teachers’ bargaining rights.
“Premier Pallister must heed the Canada’s Supreme Court’s ruling, which strongly reaffirmed that government must negotiate in good faith and respect the collective bargaining process instead of trying to unilaterally strip collective agreement protections,” said Yussuff.