CORNWALL, Ont. – Disregarding the safety of residents of the cities of Cornwall, Alexandria and Finch, as well as all residents of counties Glengarry, Stormont and Dundas, the mayor and council of the City of Cornwall have forced CUPE Local 3251 – PARA into a strike position as soon as February 19th.
CUPE Local 3251 – PARA are the paramedics who work in life and death situations and under tremendous stress. They work more than 40 hours a week, often in 12 hour shifts, and all they are asking is a fair wage settlement. The difference between what the City of Cornwall (representing the other cities and counties listed above who don’t seem to have any power to assist with negotiations) and what the life-saving paramedics want is a low 1.5 per cent.
“We have asked for arbitration on numerous occasions,” said Local 3251 representative Bob Manny. “It has always been refused. It appears neither the council nor the mayor really want to come to an equitable resolution to our contract negotiations. Why would they ask for a ‘no board’ if they didn’t want a confrontation?
Local 3251 – PARA are the paramedics and ambulance drivers who service approximately 100,000 residents of the cities and counties surrounding Cornwall. If forced into a strike position there would be only 22 paramedics covering five bases, with the support of eight managers – many of whom have not been active paramedics for many years – leaving 1/3 of those who provide emergency care to the community, working.
“Legally our members have limits on how many hours they can work. We operate an emergency service dealing with life and death situations, frequently on an hourly basis. If the City forces us into a strike it means that the services we provide will be cut by 50 per cent,” Manny explained.
“The reality for our communities means there will be no transfer of patients from one facility to another, unless it’s a life and death situation. The reality for those outside the City of Cornwall is that only two ambulances will be operating for the entire region area we service,” he continued.
“I can only ask why? Why are the mayor and council endangering the safety of residents? We have asked for arbitration, why hasn’t the City? Why hasn’t the City at the very least phoned us to discuss the implications of their reckless tactic? To make contingency plans? We love our work; our members put their lives on the line for the communities we serve. We want to continue to assist them. Given our workload, long hours, stress filled days and nights why is the City holding out over 1.5 per cent? As far as I know this has never happened in Ontario before. Why hasn’t anyone called us to work out a plan? The City hasn’t even asked us for our notice on when to strike. Shouldn’t they be ready? I guess they don’t take us seriously!
“Do the elected representatives really care? Doesn’t look like it from here.”
For further information, please contact: Bob Manny, CUPE National Representative, 613-933-5515