These guys are the "Only Game In Town", for the entire province and this would be very bad news:
B.C. paramedics could strike this April
By Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver SunJanuary 26, 2009
VICTORIA — Paramedics in British Columbia could be on strike as soon as April if their union and the province are not able to bridge a massive divide on wages.
While the paramedics will not table their formal contract demands until Wednesday, a union official said they will be seeking increases of about 31 per cent over five to eight years, in an effort to gain parity with members of the Vancouver police department.
But the province is offering them a one-year deal with a two-per-cent increase, as well as a signing bonus of up to $3,800 for each employee if a deal is reached before the current contract expires on March 31.
On Monday, Lee Doney, acting CEO of the Emergency and Health Services Commission, said the 31-per-cent demand is “unreasonable” and “unrealistic.”
“In the context of this time, when the private sector is laying people off, when unemployment rates are going up and government’s ability to pay is stretched, to come forward and ask the government for a 31-per-cent increase is totally unreasonable,” he said.
Doney was speaking in a rare briefing Monday, which he said was intended to preempt any moves by the union.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we’re reacting to what their rhetoric may be,” Doney said.
John Strohmaier, president of CUPE local 873, said he has been “disappointed” with negotiations so far, adding his union is not willing to accept a one-year deal.
“We’re not even considering a year,” he said. “We’re at impasse on that issue.”
Strohmaier says his union is not necessarily looking for a 31-per-cent increase right away, but said the service did once have parity with police, and wants it back.
“We didn’t lose parity overnight and it’s not our expectation that we’re going to get it back overnight but that is an endpoint for paramedics in B.C.,” he said, admitting it could take up to eight years to accomplish.
Strohmaier also said it is unfair to demand paramedics take less money because of the worsening economy.
“While the economy was booming in the last three or four years, the paramedics never got any wage increases,” he said.
“We haven’t got an increase during the boom times. We sucked it up during the boom times. It’s unfortunate the economy is bad now, but we don’t expect it to be that way for a great deal of time.”
Under the four-year contract that expires this year, paramedics took a three-year wage freeze followed by a two-per-cent increase and $1.2 million for targeted labour market issues.
Primary care paramedics in B.C. now make about $60,000 a year, and advanced care paramedics make about $84,000.
The government’s offer of a signing bonus is similar to those offered to other public sector employees in 2006 to help achieve labour peace in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Games. The paramedics have not negotiated a contract since that time, Doney said, meaning they qualify for the program now.
There are more than 3,500 paramedics in B.C. — 1,400 full-time and 2,100 part-time — who will all be in a strike position when the current contract expires at the end of March.
Paramedics are deemed an essential service, meaning the members will be limited in what job action they can take.
In his briefing Monday, Doney said police and paramedics have much different jobs, and argued it is wrong to make direct comparisons when it comes to salary.
“The qualifications and the nature of the jobs are quite different between police and paramedics,” he said, adding “police are probably in harm’s way a lot more regularly than paramedics.”
But Strohmaier accused Doney of being out of touch with the dangers paramedics face on a regular basis.
“Tell him to get out of his ivory tower and get in the back of an ambulance and find out what paramedics in British Columbia really do,” Strohmaier said, adding paramedics regularly deal with people with complex diseases.
“He clearly doesn’t understand what we’re dealing with.”
In his briefing, Doney said there is no known history of wage parity between police and paramedics in the past 35 years. In a written statement sent later in the day, he said parity could have existed before then, in the 1970s.
“Any history of parity that the union may find existed dates back to the 1970s — an era when the ambulance service was a collection of municipal and private companies,” said a written statement issued by Doney’s office.
Strohmaier refuted that, saying he believes paramedics had parity with Vancouver police into the 1980s.
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Thread: Bc Ambulance On Strike Notice?
01-27-2009, 08:59 AM #1
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- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
Bc Ambulance On Strike Notice?
03-20-2009, 05:24 PM #2
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- Mar 2009
Paramedics in BC deserve better. They work for 5 years before getting their first raise. They dont get benefits for 6 years! When they're waiting for a call they make either $10 an hour at the station or $2 an hour on a pager. I'm talking about part time paramedics of course. Being "part time" isnt a choice. You have to do it for your first 5 years. This means no set schedule, no guarenteed pay. Many part timers work 60-100 hours per week to make a liveable wage. We need to support these guys in their struggle.
03-25-2009, 11:50 PM #3
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- Mar 2009
deleted due to repeat
Last edited by liberty2; 04-03-2009 at 01:03 AM. Reason: repeated post by accident
04-01-2009, 02:23 PM #4
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- Apr 2009
Thanks for posting this.
I subsidize a BC paramedic. My husband works at least an eighty hour week but because we live in an area of moderate call volume he may make only $160 for that week or he may be run off his feet. At a smaller station he would likely have a "real" job to pay the bills, ideally with an employer who will allow him to carry the pager and leave if there's a call. At our station, it's too busy to ask that of another employer but you won't necessarily even make enough to pay for daycare for your kid. On a Kilo shift he makes $2 p/hr (without calls). Daycare, when we needed it, was $3.50. Doesn't take a genius to figure out why there's a staffing crisis. If I wasn't a well paid professional he wouldn't get to be a poorly paid paramedic. He would make more working in a grocery store or gas station but he is very, very committed to the work.
The benefits kick in at the END of the sixth year.
The other thing - as you say - part time isn't a choice, it just is. Most non-urban stations are losing what little full time lines they had to attrition. When a full timer laterals or retires, the line is rolled into part time status - in spite of the fact that call volumes are up pretty much across the board. I think that takes away from the real issue. We have qualified paramedics who are working for $2 or $10 p/hr. Neither is acceptable.
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