PEMBROKE Paramedics in Renfrew County launched a public awareness and political lobbying campaign today to defend their jobs, after the County forced them to reapply for their own positions, competing with outside candidates.
Renfrew County has shown a total lack of respect for local paramedics and the public we serve, says Bob Patrick, paramedic and member of Local 1502 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Every day we fight to save lives in our communities, and now the County is forcing us to fight to save our own jobs its just not right.
The County is set to take direct control of paramedic and land ambulance services on January 1, 2005, when the services are transferred from the Pembroke General Hospital. Renfrew County has posted the positions and informed all paramedics they must file an application by August 18th to be considered for a position. The paramedics serve the communities of Arnprior, Barrys Bay, Deep River, Eganville, Laurentian Hills, Pembroke, Petawawa, Renfrew, Admaston/Bromley, Bonnechere Valley, Brudenelle, Lyndoch & Raglan, Greater Madawaska, Head, Clara & Maria, Horton, Killaloe, Hagarty & Richards, Laurentian Valley, Madawaska Valley, McNab/Braeside, North Algona Wilberforce and Whitewater Region.
Today were filing a joint job application on behalf of all our members, to show that we are not going to let Renfrew County play divide and conquer, says CUPE Local 1502 president Brenda Barker. Renfrew Countys attack on our members is unprecedented. Other ambulance services have been downloaded in the province, and the paramedics have simply been transferred why has Renfrew County singled out local paramedics for this attack?
When land ambulance services were downloaded to the municipal level in 2000, Renfrew County contracted out the service to the Pembroke General Hospital. The County has now decided to take direct control of the service, but refuses to recognize the paramedics union or their rights to follow their work.
We will be performing the same services for the same residents well even be using the same vehicles and ambulance stations, says Patrick. Theres no justification for the County to force us out of a job its a heavy-handed attempt to get rid of our union and divide our workforce. We wont stand for it.
Paramedics will hold information pickets and distribute information to residents, asking them to talk to local politicians and urge them to reverse their decision. CUPE will also pursue legal remedies on behalf of its members in this matter.
We want to devote 100 per cent of our attention to saving lives, says Patrick. We shouldnt have to worry about whether or not well get a job its not in the best interest of the community.
This will end up costing the County a bundle in legal fees, says Barker. That money could be better spent on real services or training. Instead, the County will waste it fighting hard-working, dedicated paramedics who want to continue saving lives it just doesnt make any sense.
For further information, please contact:
CUPE National Representative
President, CUPE 1502