Workers at Manitoba Public Insurance approve new deal, plan return to work
A nine-week-long strike at Manitoba Public Insurance is coming to an end.
Workers at the provincial Crown corporation, which provides vehicle insurance and other automotive services, have voted to accept the latest contract offer and are planning to return to work on Friday.
Roughly 1,700 unionized workers walked out Aug. 29 in a dispute over wages.
The new collective agreement includes wage hikes of 13 per cent over four years, a signing bonus and other benefits.
Kyle Ross, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union, says the deal helps his members with the rising cost of living.
Management at the Crown corporation plans to begin restoring services and addressing a backlog of driver testing, claims assessments and other programs on Friday.
“We are incredibly pleased to have our full team returning to work on Friday and are just as eager to begin the process of rescheduling appointments that were cancelled, discontinued or limited during the labour interruption,” MPI board chair Carmen Nedohin said in a press release Wednesday night.
The strike began under the previous Progressive Conservative government. After the New Democrats won the Oct. 3 election, they replaced all but one board member at MPI and called for negotiations to resume with a better offer.
The union members rejected a first offer under the new government on Monday, and union and management negotiators reached the new agreement Tuesday night.
Justice Minister Matt Wiebe, the minister responsible for MPI, said the wage increases will not affect the NDP’s plan to return the province to balanced budgets within four years. Manitoba has run deficits in every year but two since 2009.
“We want to make sure that we remain open to workers … and make sure that they’re being fairly compensated, but ultimately we have a mandate to balance the budget in the first term and that’s what we’re committed to,” Wiebe said.
Wiebe was unable to say whether the higher wages will be paid for by higher premiums for drivers or reduced profits at MPI. He directed questions to MPI management.
MPI’s net revenues totalled $4 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year. The previous year, it lost $58 million.
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