The City of Province and its 14,000 civil servants will use mediation to resolve the contract impasse they have reached in recent days. The option to arbitrate is part of the Civil Service Act. The Manitoba and General Employees Union has applied to settle several major issues, including wages, as part of the upcoming arbitration.
Many familiar with the situation believe an arbitrated settlement could take as much as a year to accomplish, which would mean a new collective agreement would not take effect until after the provincial election in April of 2016. The union president has already stated she would prefer to reach a negotiated settlement if possible, which would still be possible, even with an arbitrator in place and arbitration proceedings underway.
The previous civil service contract in Province expired in March 2014 and bargaining on financial issues began later that year. The process slowed because of internal government problems and the NDP leadership race. Once the negotiations were able to resume, progress was slow and by the end of June, the province made its final offer on wages. It included an increase of one percent in the first two years of the four year deal, and then two percent in the final two years of the contract.
The union’s response to the final offer was to request arbitration, convinced it could achieve better results. The government is asking for a conservative deal in the negotiations because it is facing a struggle and does not want to put taxpayers on the hook for a generous civil servant contract.