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MPI and union at impasse, road test backlog continues to grow

As the Manitoba Public Insurance strike enters its fifth week, the Crown Corporation says it has made one final offer – an offer the union says is a step backward – leaving the two parties at an impasse and Manitobans with a growing backlog of road tests.

It's been about a month since 1,700 unionized employees walked off the job on Aug. 28, after contract negotiations broke down between MPI and the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union.

MPI says its contingency plans have maintained essential services and in some cases, such as making an online claim, it has created a more streamlined and enhanced experience.

But it is still facing a backlog of Class 5 road tests.

"In the first week of this disruption on level 2,000 road tests were cancelled – Class Five road tests were cancelled," MPI Board Chair Ward Keith told reporters on Tuesday. "Those cancellations build every week that this labour interruption is continuing."

The crown corporation has privately contracted 42 driving instructors who are conducting the road tests in 21 communities across the province, which comes at a cost to MPI of $30 per test.

But that's not enough to keep up with the demand.

"Efforts are now underway by MPI officials to determine, okay once the labour interruption ends and folks come back to work, what are the best strategies in order to address the backlogs that had been created and try and eat away at and clear those backlogs as quickly as possible," Keith said.

MGEU President Kyle Ross says he understands the impacts, but says the union members will continue striking until a deal is reached.

"All we've tried to ask for is a fair deal at the table and this government and the employer (would) rather impact Manitobans or hamper small businesses rather than bargain a deal," Ross said.

"I understand, I feel bad for those 16-year-olds and 15-and-a-halfs who are trying to get their licence and get those things done. And our workers would rather be there doing their tests, but they won't give us a fair offer. So it's unfortunate that we are in this situation."

MPI says it has given its final offer, after going through the conciliation process with the union.

Ross said it is now up to the strike committee to decide if the offer will be presented to its members, and give a recommendation whether or not to accept it.

"Our committee doesn't believe it should go to a vote. It's not remotely something they can recommend," Ross told CTV News. "We're going to continue and try and bargain a better deal at the table."

Keith said the Crown Corporation will not be making any further offers. So if it is rejected, he said MPI will wait until binding arbitration is required, which according to Manitoba labour laws, happens after 60 days of strike action.

The MPI strike has been ongoing for 30 days. Top Stories

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