In a move that will see Manitoba refugees left without service as of April 27, 2021, MIIC provided two weeks notice of lockout to CUPE 2348 on Monday.

A lockout occurs when an employer determines that they are no longer willing to engage in collective bargaining, and instead choose to close their operations and lock out their staff. In the case of MIIC, that means that refugee families will need to do without the important programming that MIIC offers.

“We know that these families need the services that CUPE staff are providing,” said Scott Clark, National Servicing Representative for CUPE. “It is not fair to the refugee community to shut the doors in the middle of bargaining to prove an ideological point.”

To be clear, CUPE 2348 is at the table, ready to bargain. There has been no strike vote taken by the workers, and CUPE has been dedicated to ensuring that MIIC is financially viable in the wake of funding changes and a resulting reorganization. Having agreed to what the MIIC needs, CUPE is ready to get back to the table and finish bargaining.

“We want to bargain. We want MIIC to succeed,” said Nasra Hassan. “We are refugees serving the refugee community. We care about this work. We care about our clients.”

CUPE has reason to believe that the Board of Directors was not fully notified of the lockout notice prior to it being provided and believes that the employer may be operating outside of its board, given mandate in proceeding with a lockout.

“We are hearing from board members that they are not happy about this,” said Clark. “It does not seem to us that they were consulted on a strategy that could see them shutting their doors and turning their backs on their clients.”

CUPE and the employer had been making good progress on bargaining before the threat came down. CUPE and the employer had already agreed to wage scale and other monetary issues for the Collective Agreement. MIIC however, has held out coming to an agreement over concessions that have no bearing on the funding of the organization. 

“These changes are not about money,” said Clark. “These changes are mean spirited and ideological.”

Some of the bargaining issues left on the table include:

  • A CUPE proposal to extend employees right to recall, given the current economic climate and global pandemic.
  • An employer proposal to make it harder for the employees, many of whom are refugees themselves, to travel to their home countries for their vacation.
  • An employer proposal to end Employment Insurance top up for maternity leave.
  • An employer proposal to reduce vacation and end wellness days off.
  • An employer policy to eliminate provisions designed to help staff access education and improve their qualifications.

“CUPE has a National No Concessions and No Two-Tier Bargaining Proposal Policy, these concessions are not on the table. We stand behind our members with financial support from their first day off the job,” said Lee McLeod, Manitoba Regional Director. “We are not going to get pushed around with threats of lockout.”