WINNIPEG — Unionized workers at Manitoba’s automobile insurance Crown corporation are set to strike on Monday morning.
The union that represents workers at Manitoba Public Insurance says it remains open to bargaining over the weekend, but the roughly 1,700 workers will walk out if no deal is reached.
Wages are a key sticking point in the talks.
Officials at the Crown corporation say they have offered increases worth 17 percent over four years, coupled with an offer to go to binding arbitration on the issue of general wage increases.
They say the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union rejected that offer.
The union says the wage offer is not really a 17 percent increase, because it includes one-time payments and some non-wage items.
“It is very unfortunate that MGEU has rejected MPI’s enhanced offer, which includes a proposal to go directly to arbitration to settle the issue of general wage increases beyond the eight per cent already offered over the four-year term,” said Ward Keith, MPI chairperson.
“Arbitration is a fair and independent process that would have averted a strike and allowed MGEU an opportunity to make their case for higher general wage increases to an independent arbitrator. Instead, MGEU has chosen to create service disruptions for Manitobans by taking strike action that is completely unnecessary.”
In the event of a strike on Monday:
- MPI customer enquiries and front-end service transactions will be directed from service centres to MPI’s broker partners.
- The MPI contact centre will remain open for reporting personal injury claims, non-drivable collision claims, and total theft claims.
- All other claims will be referred directly to MPI-accredited repair shops for vehicle estimates and repairs.
- Customers with vehicles towed to the physical damage centre compound will continue to have access to remove personal items.
- Essential services such as income replacement payments for personal injury claimants will continue uninterrupted.
- All existing Autopac policies and driver licences will remain valid through the labour interruption period.
- Driver testing, estimating, and adjusting appointments scheduled for Monday will be cancelled and affected customers contacted to reschedule.
Updates to impacted services will be communicated through MPI’s website.
“Everyone knows Premier Stefanson can avert this strike by lifting her 2 percent wage mandate, just like she did for liquor workers,” said MGEU president Kyle Ross.
“We know her government can do better – look at the increases that she finally approved for liquor workers — 12 percent over 4 years. Unfortunately, it took 5 weeks of strike action to get some fairness.”
— With files from The Canadian Press