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Ambulance Paramedics escalating job action

aimed at ending government inaction

Richmond B.C. February 15, 2001 A variety of escalation tactics will be used by BCs Ambulance Paramedics (CUPE Local 873) in response to the provincial governments continued refusal to even offer a fair settlement related to wages and hours of work.

The provincial government has avoided resolving these problems since bargaining started, said John Strohmaier, President of CUPE Local 873. Until now, BCs Ambulance Paramedics have kept our actions to a minimum. The governments latest attempt to put contract settlements for 3,500 paramedics on hold is like a slap in the face. Members are frustrated and the Their showing it.

Action started today with an end to low priority transfers. Beginning tomorrow all voluntary overtime will come to a halt. For a government ambulance service dependant on overworked ambulance paramedics to deliver front line emergency medical service a ban on voluntary overtime will be felt both in administration and, unfortunately by some non-emergency patients.

BC Ambulance Paramedics have been attempting to negotiate a contract since last January (2000). Their contract ended in December 1999. In January 2001 a settlement put forward by mediator Don Munro was resoundingly defeated by 90% because it did not deal with the crucial issues of hours of work and overtime.

The contract was defeated because our employer could not offer what Ambulance Paramedics need to keep safe and sane while conducting life-saving work, said Strohmaier. Although weve been attempting to negotiate this contract since last January despite thousands of cards and letters of support from the public to the government, ambulance paramedics do not seem to have the clout to be any where near the top of the governments bargaining priority.

The gloves are off, said Strohmaier. BCs Ambulance Paramedics will no longer volunteer to work the extra long hours which are ending up in increased stress related illnesses including suicides. Until this is over all training and other non-essential activities will be brought to a halt.

The government is spending thousands to stop Ambulance Paramedics from publicly demonstrating the impact of even a reduction of front line non-emergency medical services. said Strohmaier, Too bad they dont put the priority on settling a fair contract


John Strohmaier, (604) 728-2741 or (604) 273-5722