Elizabeth Carlyle | CUPE Communications

In spring 2016, CUPE members were in the midst of a major shift in Manitoba politics. The Conservative Party swept into the legislature with a large majority, after 16 years of New Democratic Party governments.

During the election campaign, Manitobans made it clear that maintaining and improving public services was a priority. Conservative Party Leader Brian Pallister promised that he would protect frontline services and the workers who deliver them.

By September 2016, the new government seemed to be moving away from its commitments. News story after news story reported that the Conservative government planned to take drastic steps.

Already, Premier Pallister has cancelled labour agreements that require collective agreements for workers on big government projects. After years of labour peace, there have been three strikes in Pallister’s first eight months in office.

In November, Premier Brian Pallister stated that he was exploring wage freezes, re-opening existing collective agreements, and restructuring bargaining units in health care. A January 2017 meeting with CUPE and other labour bodies confirmed this.

CUPE has lobbied, joined picket lines and protests, made links to community groups, and is speaking up for public services.

“A deal is a deal,” said Kelly Moist, president of CUPE Manitoba. “Collective agreements that were negotiated between employers and unions must be respected. We fully expect the government to honour its election promise to maintain and improve public services and jobs, and its commitment to respect collective bargaining.”

CUPE continues to ask the government for proof that any changes involving public sector unions are needed to boost the economy. CUPE is prepared to listen to government and engage in consultations, all while defending the integrity of collective bargaining and the public services we all rely on.