Strike planned by Red River College Polytech, Assiniboine Community College staff postponed after new offer
Staff at Red River College Polytechnic and Assiniboine Community College are holding off on strike action that was planned for next week, after receiving a new deal from their employers.
The employers and the union representing college workers met with a conciliation officer on Thursday, following information pickets in Winnipeg and Brandon earlier in the day, the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) said in a news release.
A new offer was tabled to the union’s bargaining committee during that meeting, according to MGEU.
“Strike action originally planned for Tuesday, April 11, in Winnipeg and Brandon will not proceed at this time,” the release said.
On March 25, staff at both of the colleges voted in favour of strike action. No date for strike action was set at that point, but the vote gave the union the authority to take that action “if necessary,” MGEU said last month.
Details about the newest offer, information sessions and balloting will be sent out to members next week, according to the release.
The offer applies to nearly 1,900 staff working as instructors and in administrative and information technology roles at the colleges’ campuses in Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Winkler, Steinbach and Dauphin.
The union’s president says a strike is a last resort, but staff feel like they have no other choice after what he says are two years of insufficient offers from management and government.
“We’ll continue to work with them if they continue to try and work with us, but it hasn’t been going well — let’s be honest,” Kyle Ross said in an interview.
Employees are burning out as they’re doing more with less and having to put in more hours amid struggles to recruit and retain staff, he said.
“Their students are graduating and making more money than the instructors are right out of school,” said Ross. “How hard do you think it is to bring an instructor in to teach those students?”
Instructors and other support staff at the two colleges are among the lowest-paid in the country, he said, but their jobs are important as they are training the workforce of the future.
In a Thursday update sent to students and staff, Red River College Polytech said it will maintain regular operations into next week. All scheduled programs, exams and events will go ahead as planned, the college said.
“The college will wait to hear from the MGEU with feedback from their members on our offer,” RRC Polytech spokesperson Conor Lloyd wrote in an email to CBC News.
CBC reached out to Assiniboine Community College for comment, but did not hear back before publication.
Ross said union members will also wait to see what comes next.
“We’re trying to avoid the strike at all costs because no one wins when there’s a strike. The students don’t win, our employees, the staff don’t win, the management doesn’t win.”
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