Winnipeg, Manitoba – With the strike continuing, the union representing workers at Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) says the Crown corporation is attempting to divide employees.
Approximately 1400 MPI workers have been on strike since August 28, 2023. On Friday, September 15, 2023, the union released a letter that it says was sent to employees by the Crown corporation, dated for Thursday, September 14, 2023 and signed by MPI vice-president Lisa Gendreau.
“We have received a significant number of requests from employees to return to work during the labour interruption,” the letter read, adding that anyone wanting to do so can contact their human resources department or union representative.
The letter also says there are currently two ways that the strike can be resolved. One is that workers can accept MPI’s offer to voluntarily enter binding arbitration to settle general wage increases.
The other is to proceed to conciliation, but the letter points out that if that’s not successful, the dispute could still end up in arbitration.
Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union president Kyle Ross stressed that this letter is an undermining attempt meant to “pressure [workers] to go against their fellow members by crossing the picket line.”
According to Manitoba’s current labour laws, parties involved in a labour dispute can apply for binding arbitration — in which a decision is legally binding and enforceable, similar to a court order — if a strike or lockout continues for 60 days.
MPI and union representatives have agreed to meet with a conciliator to help further discussions and to put an end to ongoing strike actions.
While MPI released a statement on Friday that it is optimistic advances are being made to end the strike, Ross, speaking to picketing workers near the Gateway Road MPI service centre in Winnipeg on the same day, called MPI’s letter “a brazen effort to divide us,” which he says “proves the union’s strike action is working.”
On Friday, MPI also released its latest offer to workers of a “global monetary value of up to 17 per cent for the average union salary,” as well as expanded lump sum signing bonuses.
However, the union says that MPI is painting an inflated picture of the deal since not all workers would receive or benefit from the one-time lump sum bonus.
MPI says that “all of our planning will maintain all expected public safety conditions” even as talks between both parties continue.