WINNIPEG – The prickly issue of a potential wage freeze for public sector workers in Manitoba is moving back to the forefront today.
There’s a meeting between the provincial government and our big labour unions scheduled for 1 o’clock this afternoon.
The province has hinted at legislation to keep public sector costs under control, and have sent a letter to the unions outlining their plan:
As you are aware, the government has stated publicly that ‘everything is on the table’ with respect to possible legislation. Accordingly, we are again inviting you to raise any issue with us that you feel should be discusses on that subject. To facilitate that process and our ongoing dialogue, some specific subjects and themes are set out below for your consideration and feedback:
- Scope of application – entire public sector or partial
- Included compensation components
- The potential re-opening of collective agreements
- Collective agreement extensions
- Mandated wage settlement amounts
- Merit increases
- Pensions – type and contribution levels
- Reduced work weeks
- Possible offsets such as efficiencies
Not surprisingly, this letter has upset a lot of people.
You may remember a January 5 meeting between Finance Minister Cameron Friesen and labour leaders, dubbed a ‘Fiscal Working Group.’ Labour leaders like Kevin Rebeck of the Manitoba Federation of Labour came out of the meeting with more questions than answers.
Now the Federation of Labour has issued a statement about the letter they received and how it relates to today’s meeting:
A government official emailed a letter to indicate that the Fiscal Working Group is no longer intended to consider options to improve the government’s fiscal situation, but rather, would focus only on the government’s narrow legislative intentions.
By denying basic financial information and changing the parameters of any conversations with the government, the Premier and Minister of Finance are preventing labour from participating in a meaningful consulation.
It seems Premier Pallister is more focused on cuts to public services and reopening signed contracts than protecting those services and the people who deliver them.
More coverage and reaction to this story throughout the day.