November 24, 2021
Statement by Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, on behalf of the Partnership to Defend Public Services:
The Partnership to Defend Public Services welcomes the repeal of the Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28) as an important and long overdue step. Manitoba’s unions have been calling for this to happen for over four years. This harmful law has, and continues to negatively impact 120,000 working families, people who work hard every day to deliver the public services that we all count on.
In fact, thousands of public sector workers remain without a contract today because of the damage this law caused to the collective bargaining process in the public sector.
As we announced several weeks ago, Manitoba’s unions are seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to get a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of this wage-freeze legislation. Today’s announcement does not change that. As Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal issued drastically different rulings, we believe it is essential to have the law made clear for everyone by the Supreme Court. We trust that the government agrees as its news release highlights the importance of resolving the constitutionality of this legislation.
If the Stefanson government is serious about wanting to reset the relationship with workers and unions, we call on them to stop interfering in public sector bargaining and to make a clear and genuine commitment that the government will also not oppose our application to have the Supreme Court consider the constitutionality of wage-freeze legislation.
We know that collective bargaining works when it is fair. It is a tried and tested process that allows workers and employers to reach fair deals that make sense for both sides. We hope that today’s announcement is the first step in this government recognizing the value of free and fair collective bargaining for workers in Manitoba.