Labour Works

Oct 2021

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 3

2 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2021 LABOUR WORKS B Y J E N N I F E R M C F E E M anitoba's labour landscape has been defined by change and challenge for a long stretch now, but some hope exists on the horizon. Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, acknowledges that working families have had a tough go during the pandemic. "There have been shutdowns and people working from home. Health and safety issues have certainly got more attention. I think one thing people have started to realize is the importance of paid sick days, something we've been calling for.'' That call needs to be answered sooner rather than later, he adds. "More than half of Manitoban workers have no paid sick days whatsoever. Far too many workers are stuck making that impossible choice: do I make ends meet and go into work contagious or do I stay home and not buy all the groceries that my family needs? It's not fair." The labour federation remains hopeful that paid sick days could become a reality for all Manitoban workers. "The sad part is the majority of workers that don't have it are our lowest paid workers. The more you make, the more you're likely to have these additional benefits — and it's easy to try to forget about the others, which is wrong," he says. Additionally, says Rebeck, temporary measures put in place by the federal government need to be enshrined. "Those measures need to be enshrined in provincial legislation permanently. We think all workers deserve 10 paid sick days — and at a time of pandemic, there could be 10 additional days available to them." The labour foundation is optimistic since some workers like teachers have recently gotten arbitration awards and school support staff have bargained similar increases. "We have an agreement for nurses with real annual increases," Rebeck adds. "The reality is it's not fair to let people fall behind inflation further and further, particularly people who have been standing up and performing critical work for all of us throughout the pandemic.'' He says it's all about being fair. ''We want a fair deal and a fair process. That's all we've ever wanted, and we're fighting for it. Fair outcomes mean some mutual gains that the employers and workers can agree on and live with. We're glad to see that." Rebeck is also pleased to see the demise of Bill 16, which would have brought changes to the Labour Relations Act. "It would have eliminated some special language that we have in Manitoba that if a strike or lockout goes on for 60 days, that there's a path to end it through a neutral third party who can reset the relationship and put a fair deal on. An arbitrator can do that, and both business and labour told government we like that system," he says. That's the type of fairness Rebeck says he's looking for. "We're glad the bill has died. We're hopeful that a new premier is serious about listening to people and will not bring that kind of legislation back." There's also room for improvement with Manitoba's minimum wage, which recently increased by five cents to $11.95 per hour. "It was embarrassing that we increased it by a nickel. It's a poverty- level wage. People can't make ends meet if they work full time and earn minimum wage. We're among the lowest paid minimum wage workers anywhere in the country," he says. That needs to change, adds Rebeck. "We're hopeful a new premier will make that difference. And if business is serious about wanting to have people work, then they need to be serious about paying a fair wage, having fair benefits and having fair scheduling." Despite the challenges, there are also victories to celebrate. Prior to the federal election, the federal government enacted new funding agreements with provinces, including Manitoba, where more childcare spaces are going to be created, with a 10-dollar-a-day childcare program eventually coming online. "We want to make sure those new public dollars go into public and non- profit spaces and that early childhood educators are paid a good living wage job with paid sick days and benefits,'' Rebeck says. ''Then we can build our economy up with those good jobs as well. It's critically important in rebuilding our economy to make affordable high-quality childcare available." Ask your employer about your return to work plan. It means having a return to work plan that: • Helps you return to work safely - when you're ready • You create together with your employer, healthcare provider and the WCB, often with modified or alternate duties • Helps you recover to good health What does returning to work aer an injury really mean? If your return to work is not going according to plan, the WCB is here to help. Call us at 204-954-4321 or 1-855-954-4321. S U P P L I E D BY M A N I TO B A F E D E R AT I O N O F L A B O U R Manitoba Federation of Labour president Kevin Rebeck (with loudspeaker) says workers are still turning to unions to ensure they are treated fairly and with respect. LABOUR LANDSCAPE FACING CHANGE AND CHALLENGE – KEVIN REBECK President, Manitoba Federation of Labour " More than half of Manitoban workers have no paid sick days whatsoever. Far too many workers are stuck making that impossible choice: do I make ends meet and go into work contagious or do I stay home and not buy all the groceries that my family needs? It's not fair." More Manitoban workers need paid sick days.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Labour Works - Oct 2021