Essential City Services to Remain If Union Strikes

By Sarah Klein

Talks between the City of Winnipeg and workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 500 have broken off.

Despite the break down in communication, the city is reassuring citizens that emergency and essential services will still be provided in the event of a work stoppage.

The city has proposed a four-year agreement with CUPE, made up of improvements to wages, benefits and pensions.

The city has also offered an increase to pensions and employment security for the duration of the agreement.

A strike vote has been called by the union, but the city says plans are in place to ensure other essential services, including flood preparations, are still provided in the event workers go on strike.

Recycling and garbage pickup, which are contracted out, would not be affected. However, many non-essential services would either be reduced or closed temporarily.

CUPE responded to the city’s statement, saying it is considering whether to accept the offer presented to its members.

“It’s important that the people of Winnipeg understand that our challenge is with the employer and not our friends and neighbours,” said CUPE Local 500 President Mike Davidson.

CUPE represents about 5,000 of the city’s workers and will vote on the contract offer on Friday February 18.

The current agreement expired December 31, 2010.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. to reflect CUPE’s response.


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