Wages are a key issue in potential strike at Manitoba Public Insurance

WINNIPEG — Unionized workers at Manitoba's automobile insurance Crown corporation said Friday they were preparing for a full-scale strike on Monday morning.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, which represents 1,700 workers at Manitoba Public Insurance, said it remains open to bargaining over the weekend, but the workers will walk out Monday if no deal is reached.

Wages are a key sticking point in the talks. The last collective agreement expired 11 months ago.

"The offer that was presented to our members isn't fair," union president Kyle Ross said in a press release.

"Our members have been clear — they want an agreement that helps everyone keep up with the soaring cost of living."

Officials at the Crown corporation said they have offered increases worth 17 per cent over four years, coupled with an offer to go to binding arbitration on the issue of general wage increases.

The union said the wage offer is not really a 17 per cent increase because it includes one-time payments and some non-wage items.

The union was planning to set up picket lines in many communities including Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Selkirk, The Pas and Steinbach.

The corporation said if the strike proceeds, essential services will continue but some programs, such as driver testing, will be cancelled.

"I am satisfied that MPI officials have done everything they can to resolve the current labour dispute in a manner that would have averted strike action by (the union),” MPI chair Ward Keith said in a written statement.

"Unfortunately, MGEU has rejected those efforts, so the corporation’s focus now is on minimizing these unnecessary service impacts to our customers."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023

The Canadian Press