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BC paramedics are stepping up their tactics to wring a settlement from the provincial government.

CUPE Local 873, without a contract since December 1999, has announced an end to voluntary overtime and the transport of non-emergency patients.

The gloves are off, said local president John Strohmaier. Paramedics will no longer volunteer to work the extra long hours which lead to stress-related illnesses and even suicide. Until this is over all training and other non-essential activities will be brought to a halt.

Within hours of the announcement, hospitals in BC were already noting the impact of the move.

The paramedics resumed bargaining in January after overwhelmingly rejecting a tentative agreement that failed to address the crucial questions of wages and workload. This week they were told the government would not settle until negotiations in the health care sector involving HEU, BCGEU and HAS were concluded.