Construction leaders in Manitoba are breathing a sigh of relief after the province committed to not repealing the Construction Industry Wages Act (CIWA) during a recent a meeting with stakeholders.
In December Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced his intentions to scrap the act, prompting concern from the construction industry. The CIWA sets out the minimum hourly and overtime wage rates and the standard hours of work per day, week or month in the heavy construction and the industrial, commercial, institutional construction sectors.
“There was strong opposition to the repeal from all sorts of sectors of the industry,” said Darryl Harrison, director of stakeholder engagement for the Winnipeg Construction Association. “It is a really good development. We are happy the government took industry concerns seriously.”
In addition to taking repeal off the table, Fielding committed to establishing a CIWA review panel with broad worker-employer representation to update the construction industry minimum wage rates.
Harrison explained the last time a working group met to look at the act’s minimum wage rates was 2014 and the most recent wage adjustments listed in the act are from January 2017.
“One of the first things we will do is bring those minimums to where they actually reflect what is reasonable in the industry right now,” said Harrison.
While it is still early in the process, Harrison noted the team intends to time any changes to the act to not disrupt the construction season.
Other Industry leaders that were at the minister’s conference included Peter Wightman, executive director of the Construction Labour Relations Association of Manitoba; Yvette Milner, president of the Merit Contractors Association of Manitoba; Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association; and, Ramona Coey, executive director of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Manitoba.
All leaders acknowledged in a media release that most of their members often pay above the required minimums.
“We know the pandemic’s economic shutdown will require strategic thinking and continued investment in our construction industry workforce in the next years and it is necessary to help put Manitoba on solid ground for recovery,” said Lorenc in the release.
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