Bargaining Update: Fighting for our Members

Publish date: Monday, April 01, 2019


MNU members

Dear members,

March 31, 2019 marked the two-year anniversary since the expiration of our collective agreement. Although the terms of the last collective agreement continue to apply until a new one is bargained, bargaining has been at a standstill as the Pallister government has refused to come to the table. Instead they have repeatedly disrupted and undermined the bargaining process.

In particular, the Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act (formerly Bill 29) is having a significant impact on bargaining. The legislation will trigger representation votes in health authorities across the province, as it will force health care unions to compete for representation of entire job classifications in each health authority.

In February 2019, Bill 29 Commissioner Robert Pruden, responsible for overseeing the Health Care Union Representation Votes, provided information on the government’s position as part of his second update:

“Collective bargaining cannot begin until after the votes have been conducted and the successful union has been determined. How soon bargaining for a new collective agreement can begin after the votes will be up to the successful union and the employers organization. However, given the size and complexity of each new bargaining unit, preparing for bargaining will be a complicated process for both unions and employers.”

Simply put, the government's position is that until representation votes are completed, there will be no collective bargaining in health care.

'The Public Services Sustainability Act' (formerly Bill 28), has also complicated matters. Passed in 2017 (though still not proclaimed), the legislation imposes two years of wage freezes, followed by 0.75 and 1 per cent increases in the third and four years. The legislation also prevents any other monetary increases. MNU joined the Partnership to Defend Public Services – a coalition of public sector unions representing over 120,000 public sector workers and led by the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) – to launch a legal challenge against this legislation, which undermines our constitutional right to collective bargaining. Although the court case was not granted an injunction in 2018 – which would have prevented the government from enacting the legislation – the court did grant expedited proceedings. The case will be heard in Manitoba's court of Queen's Bench from November 18 to December 5, 2019.  More information on the progress of this challenge is available in the President’s report in the 2018 Annual Report.

We are continuing to speak out against these attacks on our members. We recognize that it’s very frustrating for nurses to be without a contract for more than two years, particularly during these challenging times. Following the representation votes, we will endeavor to reassemble a package of proposals as quickly as possible and get to the bargaining table.

Thank you for your patience and your continued support. In the meantime, I urge you to sign our petition to stop health care cuts, and demand real consultation with nurses about changes the impact our ability to provide safe patient care. Sign online at or visit for paper copies.


Darlene Jackson
Manitoba Nurses Union


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