Winnipeg, Manitoba — Manitoba Public Insurance’s (MPI) recent withdrawal from the bargaining table with the province’s auto repairers is set to receive some legal backlash, in the form of a court injunction being sought by the Automotive Trades Association of Manitoba (ATAMB).
The group, which represents 232 auto body repair shops in the province, filed a statement of claim in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Apr. 1. The claim alleges MPI pressured shops to enter into individual compensation agreements by Apr. 14 or face operating sanctions.
The ATAMB says that while shops are no longer facing the possibility of sanctions, the organization is still calling for an arbitrator, so that the two sides may eventually come to a deal.
“We’re in uncharted waters here,” said Steve Dennis, executive director of the Automotive Trades Association of Manitoba.
“We’ve never had a termination before.”
Dennis said shops want labour rate increases to keep up with the costs of doing business and hiring new staff.
“If we don’t have labour rate increases we can’t increase what we pay our employees. It’s difficult to hire people when you’re paying the same wage that you were paying four years ago,” said Dennis.
MPI stands behind it’s actions in the negotiation process and is in the process of reaching out to shops individually to form partnerships.
“We have engaged in open discussions with individual repair outlets and at this point more than 100 collision and glass repair outlets from across the province have agreed to work directly with MPI,” MPI responded, in an email.
“We recognize that offering the new Light Vehicle Accreditation Agreement directly to repair shops is a change in our relationship with repair shops in Manitoba; this is common practice in other parts of Canada.”