Yesterday, members of Westman Lab – Local 351, who provide vital diagnostic work in the Brandon region, voted to ratify the employer’s final offer — but only because the government’s Bill 28 left them with little choice.
The final offer includes wage increases of 0%, 0%, .75% and 1%, and no other monetary increases.
“After more than three years without a new contract, these members feel betrayed by their employer and by their government,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “They were offered about five percent less than all other diagnostic employees in the province due to the government’s recent wage restraint legislation. They call it the Public Services Sustainability Act, but this move will do nothing but harm diagnostic services in the region.”
Unlike other Diagnostic Services of Manitoba employees in the last few years, members of Local 351 will also see no increase in their shift premiums. Local 351 members are deeply concerned that such disparities in compensation will make it more difficult than ever to find qualified staff willing to work at Westman Lab.
“The reality is, recruiting and retaining skilled and experienced lab technologists in Brandon just got infinitely harder,” Gawronsky said. “For more than twenty years, our Regional Health Authorities have been working to standardize compensation in our labs to prevent this very problem. People should be paid the same wage for the same work. This is a big step backwards.”
Along with other Manitoba unions, the MGEU will be launching a constitutional challenge of Bill 28. Overturning this heavy-handed legislation would be a critical step in our ongoing fight for wage parity at Westman Lab.
“This government ran on a commitment to protect and invest in public services and the workers who provide them,” Gawronsky said. “By not treating these 120 members with respect and fairness, they are putting a vital service at risk in Westman.”