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People seated at the desk are (left to right):Paul Moist, CUPE Manitoba President - Marlene Tartsch, Chair of CUPE Manitobas Provincial Health Care Council - Lorraine Sigurdson, CUPE Health Care Coordinator - Maureen Morrison, CUPE Acting Regional Director for Manitoba

WINNIPEG Manitobas health care support workers agreed today to go into mediation to address a deadlock in contract bargaining.

We agreed to mediation after the Employer offered a ridiculous .1% increase in their wage position, now which is for an annual increase of 2.4% a year. They are basically refusing to bargain, according to Marlene Tartsch, Chair of the Provincial Health Care Council, which represents the 10,000 workers across the Province who are affected by negotiations.

A mediator will now be appointed by the Minister of Labour. Negotiators for the Employers and the Union will meet the mediator next week and his recommendation should be available within two weeks.

We are still prepared to strike. We are still going ahead with our preparations for a strike getting the members organized and trained. But we have agreed not to set a strike date yet, Tartsch said.

To put it mildly, were extremely disappointed in the Governments attitude. We really thought we were able to keep bargaining in good faith but theres no flexibility in their position. The Government is not showing any respect for the members, reports Lorraine Sigurdson, CUPEs Health Care Coordinator.

Contract negotiations between the Employers and the Union Representatives of the 10,000 health care support workers started in March. Their contract expired in April.

CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, represents health care support workers in more than 80 facilities across Manitoba, including the Regional Health Authorities covering Central Manitoba, Interlake, Parkland, Southwestman, Marquette and Brandon. In Winnipeg, the CUPE members work in the Health Sciences Centre, Grace, Seven Oaks and Concordia Hospitals, CancerCare Manitoba, Riverview Health Centre, the Community Health Clinics and personal care homes.

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For information, contact:
Marlene Tartsch
942-0343, ext. 287 / cell. (204) 794-6817
Lorraine Sigurdson
942-0343, ext. 214 / cell. (204) 981-6499
Nancy Garrioch
(204) 729-5790 (for Brandon)