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Work shrinks: layaway protection for Manitoba’s civil servants nearing its end

It seems that in Manitoba there will be an even greater reduction in jobs in the public sector, and the long-time ban on dismissal from public service will expire soon.

Prime Minister Brian Pallister, in his third year of his promise to eliminate the deficit by 2024, says he does not plan any large-scale layoffs, but some cuts still remain – mostly not filling vacant positions when someone retires or leaves.

“Senior leadership is still hard outside the main government, in the so-called MUSH sector (municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals) and in the Crowns,” said Pollister at the end of the year in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"(It is) harder than we would like, and therefore there is an aspect that must be resolved."

Pallister was elected in 2016 by a promise to put an end to the deficit that began under the former NDP government. He has already reduced the number of positions in the public service by eight percent due to the reduction and ordered the Crown agencies to reduce management positions.

About 13,000 civil servants were protected from direct layoffs by special provision agreed to in the IPA in the last five-year collective agreement. This transaction expires in March, and the Manitoba government and the Union of Common Workers expect that the ax may fall on many workers.

“Our members themselves are very nervous and very afraid of what will happen,” said union president Michel Gavronski.

"These people have a mortgage to pay, and they have children to feed."

Michel Gavronsky, president of the Government of Manitoba and the Union of Common Workers, says that union members are worried about what will happen. (Travis Golby / CBC)

The government has already notified about a small number of potential layoffs after the expiration of the collective agreement – up to 11 employees of real estate services, up to eight employees of public translation services and some others.

Pallister said that layoffs constitute a small part of the provincial labor force, and spending cuts are necessary in order to end red ink over the years, which has led to a downgrade in credit rating by rating agencies.

The province’s annual deficit has decreased, but it is projected that this year it will be $ 518 million. Rising interest rates and uncertainty about global trade agreements are also threats, Pallister said.

“In addition to balancing the leadership at the top of the organization, there were virtually no dismissals,” the premier said.

"Any Manitoban who should manage money and should benefit from his salary will appreciate the fact that this government keeps his word and stabilizes our finances in the province."

According to Gavronsky, Pallister also promised to protect advanced jobs and services. After the 2016 elections, some emergency departments were closed, services such as forest fire bombers were privatized, and subsidies for things like chiropractic care were reduced.

“It was a promise made by the Prime Minister and his government that they were going to … protect the services that the Manitobans rely on,” she said.

"We do not see this in any form, either in form or in form."

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