Manitoba government issues order after strike enters sixth week
Striking professors at Manitoba’s Brandon University will have three days to vote on whether they will accept the university’s final offer. The province’s NDP government ordered the 240 striking workers to take the vote earlier this week.
The Manitoba Labour Board established the parameters around the vote on Nov. 23 after meeting with administrative staff from the university and the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA).
“We believe that it's time for the members to decide,” says Manitoba Labour Minister Jennifer Howard. “And each member will get to vote and will get to decide if they want to accept the final offer. We think that's in the best public interest and the best interest of students.”
Manitoba’s government has been facing increasing pressure to end the strike, which is now in its sixth week. The university’s more than 3,000 students worry an entire term could be lost if the dispute doesn’t end.
Winnipeg BUFA members will vote on Nov. 29 and 30, while Brandon members will vote on Dec. 1. Northern and rural Manitoba members will cast mail-in ballots due on Dec. 2.
The union representing the Brandon University professors is calling the move an end to free collective bargaining.
“This intervention into the collective bargaining process at Brandon University is as dangerous as it is outrageous,” Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) president Joe Dolecki says. “It confirms for us the pro-employer bias shown by this allegedly ‘labour-friendly’ government throughout this round of negotiations. It is a sad day for free collective bargaining in this province.”
Talks between the two parties broke off in early November despite efforts by government-appointed mediator Michael Werier, who has since called for binding arbitration in the ongoing dispute.
Should BUFA members vote to reject the university's final offer, binding arbitration can still take place.