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CALGARY Collection and distribution of blood in the Calgary area has come to a stop, as Canadian Blood Services workers went on strike this morning to back their demands for increased pay and respect.

We know how important our work is to the health and well-being of people in Alberta and right across the country. But weve given all we can. Now, its time for our employer to give a little back. After years of falling behind huge cost of living hikes, we need a pay raise, says Kim Storebo, President of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1846.

The workers, whove been without a contract since April 2002, collect and distribute blood and blood products in the region. Picket lines are up at Canadian Blood Services (CBS) sites in Calgary and Lethbridge, and both centres are closed.

Our work is constantly improving and increasing, to meet new standards. We have the integrity of the blood supply at heart. If our employer is interested in maintaining that same integrity, we hope theyll get back to the bargaining table quickly, says Storebo.

The workers voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike, and rejected a mediators recommendation in late May. They want increased recognition and pay for their ever-growing responsibilities. They are waiting for the employer to come back to the bargaining table with a new offer.

The more than 80 CBS workers are mainly clinical assistants, as well as those working with donors, providing administrative and technical support and transporting blood products. Their work is part of the well-functioning blood supply network across Canada. Half of whats collected in the region goes to meet other needs across Canada.

Our members are proud that our work makes Calgary the best-run centre in the country. Were a vital link in a cross-Canada lifeline. We want a fair settlement, so we can keep that lifeline flowing, says Storebo.

CUPE Local 1846 is asking donors and other blood system supporters to contact CBS CEO Graham Sher and urge him to resolve the strike quickly by offering the workers a fair deal.

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For more information, contact:
Kim Storebo, CUPE Local 1846 President,
(403) 862-1482 (c) or (403) 274-4579 (h)

Tom OLeary, CUPE National Representative,
(403) 235-6955 (o) or (403) 863-7842 (c)