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Breakthrough in Manitoba liquor strike as conciliator recommends arbitration

Some movement has been made in the ongoing strike involving Manitoba Liquor Mart employees on Monday.

An independent conciliator has been working with the two sides and on Monday they recommended for the strike and lockout action to end and for both sides to move on to binding arbitration on wage increases.

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL) has agreed to binding arbitration to end the job action by its employees but the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) isn’t too sure.

“They may be fair, but the employers are really pushing toward arbitration because they don’t want to bargain a fair deal,” said union president Kyle Ross.

“We’ve worked really hard to try to bargain with them and they haven’t moved. We’ve been on strike for weeks. It didn’t have to be this way.”

Meanwhile, MBLL President Gerry Sul said he believes the arbitration is a good move.

“So a lot of the monetary components that we did put on the table, you know, such as the lump sum payments, the pay scale adjustment, sick leave or the living allowance, all those things will remain intact,” Sul said.

“All that will be arbitrated would be the general wage increases themselves. So I don’t know that there’s anything for them to risk, you know, coming to the table and going to the binding arbitration process, which, you know, is again, a fair method of moving forward.”

However, Ross said he is frustrated with how things have gone so far with negotiations and he doesn’t see that changing through binding arbitration.

“With binding arbitration. I’m not sure we have to take a vote. And I can guarantee you if we take the offer we have now to a vote, it’s not going to pass.” he said.

“I’ve spoken to our members on many of the picket lines and they don’t believe 2 per cent is fair. So they know that the 3.3 per cent, the five-year rolling average that the premier took is a fair offer and that’s what they want.”

On Tuesday, at 11:40 a.m., MGEU members are set to march from the Union Centre on Broadway to the Manitoba Legislature where a short rally will take place.

It will officially be one week since the strike of about 1,400 MGEU members began and the members are now rallying to send a clear message to Premier Heather Stefanson that they are committed to negotiating fair wage increases that help all liquor workers keep up with the rising cost of living.

Source: Global News