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This article was published 30/3/2019 (233 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Provincial government employees have been left wondering what the future holds after their contract expired Friday along with its no-layoff clause.
"There’s fear that there’s going to be cuts," said Brandon & District Labour Council president Kirk Carr. "It’s going to be trying to balance the budget on the back of the services that Manitobans use and Brandon uses."
Carr noted many Manitoba Government and General Employees Union members in Brandon fall under that contract, including those working in Corrections, Justice and Highways.
"The end of the no-layoff clause has government employees on pins and needles and rightfully so," MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said in a written statement released on Friday.
While the collective agreement remains in effect until a new one is negotiated and ratified, the no-layoff provision ended on the expiry date of the contract.
"For the better part of the last two years, we’ve seen this government slash away at the civil service," Gawronsky said. "It’s to the point that we now have approximately 12,000 members in the civil service compared to approximately 14,000 at the beginning of 2016.
Membership in the civil service fluctuates from winter and summer because of seasonal jobs.
"Public services don’t deliver themselves," she said. "You need a dedicated workforce to ensure strong public services are there for Manitoba families. Government workers are stretched thin, doing multiple jobs to keep up. There is no more room for cuts."
Effective today, the Manitoba government is contracting out jobs held by MGEU members and laying off up to 11 employees in the government’s Real Estate Services division (formerly Crown Lands and Property Agency), the MGEU noted on its website in November 2018.
The government informed the MGEU in a letter they will contract out additional appraisal work from the division and will be dissolving the division’s Special Operating Agency status, impacting one term employee and 10 regular employees who work in Portage la Prairie.
As well, the provincial government announced it will be eliminating eight translator positions as of Friday, the MGEU said in November.
The union added members were told the government’s goal is to contract out 80 per cent to 90 per cent of all translation work and provided no assurances employees will move to other areas in the civil service. Only a supervisor position and some administrative staff will remain once the layoffs take place, the union website noted.
MGEU officials have met with provincial government labour relations and human resources representatives on two occasions regarding this issue, Gawronsky said in the written statement, and the union asked for clarity on how any layoffs would be dealt with.
"Unfortunately, we still have questions about the process," she said. "We also continue to have concerns that even more job cuts may be on the way."
Gawronsky was travelling and not available for interviews, her office said Friday.
The MGEU voted in 2016 to ratify a new five-year collective agreement with the province, the Winnipeg Free Press reported at the time. One of the key provisions was a no-layoff clause covering all regular employees hired on or before April 1, 2015.
Manitoba’s civil servants had been without a contract since March 2014.
"Every department of government has met its workforce targets and given the current rate of retirement and attrition, the Manitoba government is hiring qualified applicants in all areas of government," a spokesperson said in an email. "We encourage all people interested in working for the provincial government to visit Manitoba.ca/govjobs for the latest job listings."
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