Manitoba

Manitoba nurses reach agreement with province, won't go on strike

While negotiations will continue, the Manitoba Nurses Union has reached an agreement with the province that will send its contract to binding arbitration if further bargaining is not successful, averting a planned 60 days of job action.

New agreement means contract will go to binding arbitration if bargaining is still unsuccessful

The latest update comes after nurses in the province voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. (Mikaela Mackenzie/Winnipeg Free Press/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba nurses won't go on strike after all.

The union representing them said on Saturday it had reached an agreement with the province to go to binding arbitration without job action if bargaining is unsuccessful.

In a statement on Saturday, the Manitoba Nurses Union said it will continue to bargain and additional dates have already been scheduled.

The latest update comes after nurses in the province voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action earlier this month.

Of the record nearly 12,000 votes cast, there was an average of 98 per cent support across the province's five health regions, the union said.

The union said it had not been able to come to an agreement with the province, despite meeting upwards of 30 times since October. The nurses' contract expired four years ago.

The union said a major sticking point in negotiations was the recruitment and retention of nurses, which has been worsened because of the pandemic.

Union president Darlene Jackson previously said the province had refused the union's requests to go to binding arbitration.

Manitoba Shared Health said in a statement the agreement was reached earlier Saturday.

That statement said more than 60 per cent of proposals at the bargaining table have already been agreed on.

The employers and the union also agreed to a customized arbitration process, the statement said, an agreement that is "uniquely suited to dealing with operational issues that will improve patient care and allow for a better work and life balance for nurses."

Under current labour laws, arbitration would become mandatory after 60 days of strike action.

The province plans to pass a bill this fall, making changes to the Labour Relations Act that would eliminate the requirement for binding arbitration after a 60-day dispute between a union and employer, which could result in strikes and lockouts lasting indefinitely.

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