Winnipeg, Manitoba – After four weeks of striking, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) says its latest offer–announced Tuesday–to the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU) is final.
On September 14, MPI and MGEU agreed to meet with a conciliator to help further talks, but following this discussion, union president Kyle Ross said that the latest offer won’t go to a union member vote.
“It’s kind of frustrating they keep calling these final offers,” Ross said in an interview with CBC. “We know that they’ll come to the table and bargain, hopefully sooner rather than later, and we can resolve this.”
MPI board chair, Ward Keith, noted in a following announcement that he is hopeful the latest offer will go to the employees for a vote, “but ultimately, again, a strike can continue in the province for up to 60 days.”
MPI’s previous offer included general wage increases of two percent per year over four years and a one-time signing bonus of $1,800.
MPI says that its enhanced offer, released Tuesday to the union, also includes an additional seventh step in its pay scale, which would be a three and a half percent increase across all pay grades. This offer has also been moved forward by a year, so it would now come into effect at the beginning of year two of the proposed contract.
In comments to CBC, Ross noted that the extra step would expand the six-step pay scale MPI employees go through as their tenure increases. Currently, an employee at the sixth step of the salary scale would be “topped out,” he said.
However, over the course of a four-year agreement, not all employees would reach that final step in the scale.
“It initially represented about 50 per cent of the members,” said Ross. “Now it’s … a little over 60 per cent of the members that are able to access that seven[th] step within four years, but it still leaves a lot of our members out.”
With the strike continuing, under Manitoba law, the union has until the 60th consecutive day before arbitration will be enforced and a settlement agreement will be given to union members without an opportunity to vote.
In a final statement, Ross said MGEU and the employees it represents understand what happens if the strike hits the 60-day mark.
“In the unfortunate situation it would go 60 days, we’re prepared and ready to do that, and I think our members are prepared and ready to do that if they had to,” he said.