It has been two months where Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) workers walked the picket lines beginning in August, and stretching into the winter season. As of yesterday (Nov. 1st) the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) worked out an agreement with MPI that has brought the strike to a close.
The deal includes general wage increases of three per cent in the first year, and three per cent, 2.9 per cent, and 2.8 per cent in the second, third, and fourth years. Also included in the deal is a $1,800 signing bonus, in addition to retention adjustment percentages for years three and four and two-week lump sum pay for striking workers in consideration of the government’s transition period where bargaining could not take place.
According to Manitoba Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) representative; Eric Redhead, he says that one of the biggest obstacles that needed dealt with was the previous board that proved to make a reasonable agreement nearly impossible:
“We had to get a new board, and we mandated them to get this resolved” Said Redhead, in which Matt Wiebe, current Minister responsible for MPI stepped in on Oct. 3rd stating in a recent letter that he was pleased how swiftly resolve to the Strike could be made though transition:
“I am pleased to report that our government, just a few weeks after we were sworn-in, has settled the strike at MPI” Stated Wiebe “The mandate we gave to MPI has allowed parties to come together at the negotiating table and settle the strike”
Though a recent concern was voiced by Thompson City Mayor: Colleen Smook, she fears the losses of MPI could possible be taken out on the consumer, increasing the cost of insurance.
“Depending on how the MPI strike ends it could end up being a lot higher cost for insurance. There has to be a cost for being closed down so long. That will likely be passed to the consumer”
But with that concept addressed to Redhead, he suspects MPI is financially stable enough where they won’t feel the need to make up any financial losses.
“MPI is well fitted when it comes to their financial. If you look at the past they have been issuing rebate checks to us because of their financial situation. So I’m hoping that they are situated financially well where they wouldn’t need to raise their prices”.
Having been a Thompson resident prior to swearing in as MLA, Redhead was found along side the picket streets standing with the workers. Redhead stated that his personal family have undertaken a great difficulty through the strike, and he is more then pleased to see things come to a close.
“Sometimes strikes are necessary. So it was important for me to stand in solitary” confirmed Redhead. “I will stand with workers every day. We want to support the working class, because the working class is really the backbone of our economy. So when they’re not at work it’s effecting a lot of other things”
“I think our Government demonstrated yesterday how important it is for us to get back to work and respect the bargaining table”
Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) will begin restoring full services for customers across the province on Friday, November 3, following the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement with the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU), ending the 10-week labour interruption.
With employees returning to work on Friday, MPI locations will reopen to the public at 1:00 p.m. with the majority of regular services available.
“It’s been a tough road of bargaining and strike action stretching from summer into fall” Said MGEU President: Kyle Ross in a press release “But our members stood their ground to achieve the fairness they deserved all along”
Carmen Nedohin, MPI Board Chair stated “We are incredibly pleased to have our full team returning to work on Friday and are just as eager to begin the process of rescheduling appointments that were cancelled, discontinued or limited during the labour interruption,” said Nedohin. “We recognize that customers have been patient over the past few months and we thank them for their understanding as we work as quickly as we can to return to our expected service levels.”
The conclusion of the strike marks as one of the longest in the union’s history, as the members of MPI represented not only their stand, but the stand of the whole community, voicing all those who struggle through costs of living according to their incomes.
~Matthias J. Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Thompson Citizen. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.