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PEMBROKE, ON – Renfrew County paramedics, 97 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), have begun strike preparations after the County’s human resources director cancelled contract negotiations scheduled for the month of August. The ambulance workers have been trying to negotiate a collective agreement since they were downloaded to Renfrew County from the Pembroke Regional Hospital in January 2005.

We have never been on strike before and it’s the last thing we want to do, but Renfrew County management is putting us in a position where we may have no choice,” said Kerry Papineau, president of CUPE Local 4698. Human Resources Director Bruce Beakley cancelled the negotiations after disagreeing with the outcome of an arbitrator’s ruling on a parental leave provision that currently affects two county paramedics.

County residents should not be put through a strike or lockout because the HR Director refuses to negotiate,” said Papineau. “Management wouldn’t even negotiate an essential services agreement – they have shown no interest in protecting services for area residents.” According to provincial legislation, an essential services agreement should have been negotiated 120 days prior to the commencement of negotiations.

CUPE has asked the ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer to try and restart negotiations to avert a strike. A strike would affect ambulance services in Renfrew County and ambulance bases in Arnprior, Renfrew, Barry’s Bay, Eganville, Pembroke, Chalk River and Petawawa.

We have dealt with difficult employers before, but nothing can be resolved if we’re not at the bargaining table,” said CUPE National Representative Bev Smale. “If county councillors don’t step in to get things back on track, they will be responsible for the first ever strike by paramedics in Renfrew County.”

For further information, please contact:

Bev Smale
CUPE National Representative
Ottawa Area Office
(613) 237-0115

Kerry Papineau
President, CUPE 4698
(613) 587-4163 (home)
(613) 635-1636 (cell)

Robert Lamoureux
CUPE Communications
(416) 292-3999