Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI)'s letter to employees on strike was not intended to create further division or encourage workers to cross the picket line, according to Keith Ward, the Crown corporation’s board chairperson.
Ward discussed the letter's contents on Friday, clarifying it was meant to provide employees with an avenue to express their interest in returning to work “if they were prepared to do so.”
The letter, signed by MPI vice president and chief people officer Lisa Gendreau, included an email address that employees could contact for more information about returning to work. It also advised employees to consult with their representatives at the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU).
According to Keith, MPI sent the letter as part of a formal process established to track inquiries from employees currently on strike.
He said over 30 employees had expressed an interest in returning to work before the letter’s release and that tracking the number of employees sending inquiries could aid MPI in determining how to utilize them effectively during the strike.
“It was never intended as a request for MPI employees to cross the picket line. It was never intended to create mischief for the MGEU, or the members of the union that are picketing on the picket lines,” he noted.
Some 1,700 MPI employees have been on strike since late August after rejecting a contract offer that included provisions for 2% annual general wage increases and a 1% market adjustment for select members.
Both sides have recently agreed to meet with a conciliator to facilitate a resolution to the ongoing strike.
“We are hopeful that the conciliator will assist in bringing this to a resolution and if not, then helping to sort of streamline the process for eventually moving to arbitration on general wage increases, as well as settle any other issues that may be still on the table,” Keith said.
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