The two sides in the ongoing liquor strike across Manitoba say they have reached a tentative agreement that would end just over a month of job action if ratified.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries says the proposed four-year contract includes yearly, compounding general wage increases retroactive to March 25, 2022, as well as pay scale adjustments, benefit enhancements, a one-time lump sum payment and other shift premiums for employees, according to a Wednesday news release.
About 1,400 unionized workers will vote on the tentative deal starting Thursday at noon until Sunday at the same time, the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union announced in a Wednesday news release. Results of that vote will be released on Sunday afternoon.
MGEU president Kyle Ross says they wanted an offer that would help all of the union’s members deal with inflation-induced struggles.
“When we finally got down to bargaining, that’s what we got,” he told CBC News on Wednesday.
The provincewide strike by unionized Liquor & Lotteries workers is now in its third week, although limited job action, including day-long strikes and walkouts, started just over a month ago.
Ross did not offer specifics in regards to the yearly wage increases, but said that number has shifted away from the two per cent the Crown corporation previously sought. The bargaining committee has recommended union members vote yes on the deal.
Manitoba Liquor Marts and the distribution centre will remain closed until the vote is completed, said Ross, but the Crown corporation can decide when employees will return to work if the deal is passed.
Unionized workers will be taken through the offered agreement during Thursday and Friday webinars, according to Ross, who said reaching that deal felt “bittersweet.”
“A strike doesn’t really feel good for anyone, it’s really a breakdown of communication,” he said.
In its release, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries said it will begin processing the retroactive and one-time lump sum payments for workers immediately if the deal is passed.
The proposed agreement with the union was struck through complex negotiations, the Crown corporation said, acknowledging the process has not been easy for either party and thanking the union’s leadership and bargaining committee for working with them.
Liquor & Lotteries returned to the bargaining table with the union last Thursday, after both parties said conciliation efforts had reached a standstill the day before.
The approximately 1,400 unionized workers have been without a contract since their last collective agreement with the Crown corporation expired in March 2022.
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