Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) and the union representing 1,700 of its employees currently on strike are set to engage in conciliation talks beginning today.
Pressure to resolve the labour dispute between the two parties has been mounting, especially as the Crown corporation faces a growing number of hail-related damage claims.
MPI-employed members of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) have been striking for four weeks now. They first hit picket lines in late August after voting to reject a contract offer that included provisions for 2% annual general wage increases and a 1% market adjustment for select members.
MGEU president Kyle Ross said the decision to strike was made to ensure that workers receive wages that are on par with living costs.
“When CPI is running high, when food, groceries, everything has gone up, they’re continuing to offer 2%,” MGEU president Kyle Ross told CityNews on Wednesday. “They could have offered a fair, reasonable offer. It’s really unfortunate.”
MPI previously stated that its offer amounts to a “global monetary value of up to 17% over four years.” MGEU called this a misleading representation of the contract that was offered to its members, noting that the 17% increase also includes non-wage items, one-time payments and other items that are only applicable to certain employees.
As both sides head into conciliation, the brokers tapped by MPI to aid in providing essential services are eager to see a positive outcome.
To minimize operational disruptions, MPI has asked its broker partners to perform services that are typically handled by its staff, including license renewals, new insurance policies, and insurance payments.
“What we’re hoping for is some positive meetings,” Kurt Gutoski, HUB International’s vice-president of operations for Manitoba told the Winnipeg Free Press.
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