April 1, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP is standing with Manitoba educators and school staff who are facing an unconstitutional wage freeze from the Pallister government.
“Educators and staff deserve a medal for the work they have done to support kids throughout this pandemic. But what has this government done to thank them? Drop a massive bill to overhaul the public school system and force wage freezes across the board,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “This wage freeze is unconstitutional, unfair and just plain wrong. This government has done nothing to make life easier for those working in public schools, in fact they have only caused more chaos and more worry.”
The Manitoba NDP is sharing a letter sent from the Ministers of Education and Finance to all school divisions, indicating they must adhere to the four-year wage structure laid out in the government’s Bill 28—a two-year freeze followed by a 0.75% increase in the third year and a 1% increase in the fourth. This mandate would apply to all school division staff. Bill 28, and its implications on public sector collective bargaining, was ruled unconstitutional by a provincial court last year.
In their letter the Ministers blame the COVID-19 pandemic for the wage freeze. But Manitoba educators know this Conservative government has forced wage freezes on public workers—including school bus drivers, university faculty and community workers—for years. Manitoba Hydro workers are currently on a strike against a freeze they say is unnecessary and unfair.
The Ministers acknowledge the economic burden that COVID-19 has placed on Manitoba educators and their families, yet demand that they “cooperate” with an “all-hands-on-deck approach”.
“What the Ministers fail to mention in their letter is they have introduced a bill which would ensure the Premier and his Cabinet don’t lose their own salaries because of the pandemic,” said NDP Education Critic Nello Altomare. “So while they keep their salaries, educators and school staff get a wage freeze. Yet again this Conservative government thinks there is one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everyone else.”
The referenced letter can be read here.