Global News: Conservatives take next step in battle with Manitoba unions

May 10, 2018

The Manitoba government has appointed a commissioner to oversee the forced merger of many of the province’s health-care union bargaining units.

Robert Pruden, a former director of labour relations, is to guide the 18-month process of cutting the number of units across the province from more than 180 to a few dozen.

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen says having fewer bargaining units will mean less time spent at the bargaining table for both sides, and will free up time and money for front-line care.

But unions say the move is heavy-handed and will take away the right of workers to determine who can represent them.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says it’s examining its legal options to protect its members’ freedom of association.

The changes were promised in 2016 by Premier Brian Pallister, who is already facing a lawsuit from public-sector unions over recent legislation that would freeze public-sector wages.

The head of Manitoba’s largest union, MGEU, called the legislation a distraction.

“Every dollar and every moment that we put into this reshuffling process could and should be put into protecting and improving patient care,” MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky said.

(The Canadian Press)

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