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Employees' Union Questions MASC Layoffs

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU) is questioning the reasoning behind intended layoffs at Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC).
Premier Brain Pallister has stated that the layoffs are warranted due to a lack of work.
“I don’t know where the Premier gets his facts, but the reality is our members at MASC are as busy as ever; in fact, MASC is currently looking to fill positions for agricultural adjustors and hiring summer students to help out,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “Our farmers are facing unprecedented challenges right now and need these services more than ever. This is our bread and butter.”
Gawronsky notes MASC recently notified the union of up to 40 layoffs in the unit where workers administer a range of risk management and financing options to support farmers. She adds employer representatives told the MGEU that about a dozen lay-offs were certain and that, in order to minimize further layoffs, MASC workers in the Administration unit would also be required to take 35 unpaid days off in the current year.
“This amounts to a fifteen per cent pay cut,” commented Gawronsky. "Our members were given a very short time to decide whether or not to agree to this.”
In a letter to the group, MASC President and CEO Jared Munro told affected workers that MASC has been required by government to reduce workforce expenses by 20% as part of its effort to cut spending during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gawronsky has sent a letter to Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development Blaine Pedersen, calling on the government to reverse the cuts.
“It makes no sense to reduce work days for staff who are very busy delivering important public services,” added Gawronsky. “It is even more absurd to impose layoffs or work reductions on permanent employees with mortgages to pay and families to support while hiring summer students.”
The MGEU is investigating other means to address the issue, including utilizing the grievance procedure.
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