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Winnipeg While 24,000 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members will be celebrating Mondays Labour Day across the province, CUPE Manitoba President Paul Moist said after a decade of restraint union members are also looking forward to achieving gains on the wage and legislative fronts in upcoming months.

The 1990s were a tough decade for all workers. Real wages fell and layoffs and downsizing were the order of the day, said Moist. Now that the economy is improving and unemployment rates are down, workers in all sectors are looking to recoup wages and advance other bargaining issues such as improved benefits and more flexible work arrangements.

The key challenge facing our provinces economy will be keeping young workers here and ensuring that Manitobas workforce has the skills to meet employers expectations. Another serious challenge for all employers both public and private, said Moist, is planning for the retirements of thousands of baby-boomers who will leave the provincial workforce in the next four to six years.

On the legislative front, Moist said, CUPE is joining with other unions in the call for improved Health and Safety laws to protect workers from injury and workplace fatalities. Representing more than 10,000 health care workers who will bargain early next year, CUPE also wants amendments to the Essential Services Act that allow union members the right to strike while still providing a reasonable level of essential services for patients.

The present Act, created by the former Filmon government, essentially stripped health care workers of their right to strike, said Moist. This is unacceptable to CUPE or any other health care union.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canadas largest and fastest growing union representing a half-million women and men across the country. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members in health care, education, municipalities, social services, child care, utilities, libraries and emergency services.

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For more information, contact:
Paul Moist, CUPE MANITOBA President,
(204) 635-2292 or cell: 981-2873