'Fair deal' bus takes frustrated MGEU reps to Manitoba minister's office
Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union visiting MLAs' offices this week
Representatives of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union drove a decorated "Fair Deal Bus" on Tuesday to the constituency office of Kerri Irvin-Ross, the minister responsible for the provincial civil service.
The point of the exercise is to draw attention to 14,000 government employees who have been without a contract for the last 18 months.
The union is also visiting the offices of Labour Minister Erna Braun and stopping at the Woodsworth Building downtown before heading to Portage la Prairie, Man., on Tuesday afternoon.
The bus rolled up to Irvin-Ross's office at 9:15 a.m. and MGEU workers protested outside the building with signs saying, "We need a fair deal" and "We can't keep doing more with less!"
"It's difficult, absolutely, to come to this point that we can't get a fair deal. We're workers, we put in place the programs that the employer legislates for Manitobans, and that's an important job," she added.
"You can't have programs without the people in place to do the job."
The MGEU's Fair Deal Tour began on Monday and continues through Friday with stops across the province.
Arbitration hearing set for May
"They have to be responsive to the concerns of their membership and that's a tactic that they're using," Finance Minister Greg Dewar said Monday.
"We're going to find an answer to that. They've asked for arbitration, we've agreed to that."
The MGEU wants a two per cent annual increase in salaries for four years for the workers.
"Members are frustrated. They definitely feel devalued by their government … their employer," said Michelle Gawronsky, the union's president.
Dewar has not publicly disclosed details of the deal the province is offering workers.
"I'm not going to bargain here on the airwaves; we bargain at the bargaining table," Dewar said. "We have to be responsible to the taxpayer. We feel it's necessary to strike the right balance with them and we feel we are."