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CUPE 873 members set up picket lines April 1, outside offices that handle administrative functions.

The 3,500 Ambulance Paramedics of BC went on strike at 5 a.m. after their contract expired. Strike notice took affect at one minute past midnight. Ambulance services will continue to run across the province under essential services legislation.

The union rejected a suggestion Mar 31 by the government for a 90-day “cooling off” period that would put off the dispute until after the May 12 provincial election.

John Strohmaier, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, says CUPE 873 members are determined to address wages, job security and ambulance shortages.

The main issue is wage parity with other emergency service professionals, including Vancouver police officers and paramedics in other parts of the country. The union has proposed a four-year agreement with parity phased in. The employer has stuck to a one-year offer with a three-per-cent increase.