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Manitoba health care support workers have rejected the government’s latest offer in contract negotiations, and are organizing for a province-wide strike vote on May 19th.

“Our members are shocked and insulted at the government’s lack of respect,” said Maryann Wasylnuk, chair of CUPE’s Provincial Health Care Council.

In the last round of talks, the government backtracked on their wage proposal. Many of the union’s other key issues remain unresolved despite months of negotiations.

Going into the last round, the government was offering a 2 per cent wage increase over each of the next three years and a commitment to address wage disparity. But last week the government reduced the amount of money on the table, saying the funds needed to eliminate wage disparity (people paid different wagesby the same employer doing the same job as a result of health care restructuring) must come from the wage increase.

“We’ve taken two pay cuts, we’ve got too much work and many of us hold down two jobs. Manitoba health care workers have made too many sacrifices. Premier Filmon isn’t getting any more out of us this time. It’s our turn to get something back,” she said.

Support workers are wearing black armbands between now and the vote. “If nurses can get 13.5 per cent, judges can get 16 per cent and Filmon can give himself a 23 per cent pay hike, we deserve better,” said Wasylnuk.

If CUPE’s 8,500 health care support workers vote to strike, one may occur with seven days’ notice.