Ambulance Paramedics of BC vote to strike if necessary to reach new collective agreement with BC government to get better ambulance service and obtain fair wages and working conditions; no job action yet planned - mediator requested



    RICHMOND, BC, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - The Ambulance Paramedics of BC have voted
overwhelmingly to strike if necessary to reach a new collective agreement that
addresses problems with the BC Ambulance Service affecting patients and
provides paramedics with fair wages and working conditions.
    The union received a 96% strike mandate from its more than 3,500 members
in a province-wide mail-in ballot, with a record 70% of its members voting but
John Strohmaier, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, says no job
action is planned and that a mediator has been requested to assist in
negotiations.
    "Ambulance Paramedics do not want to be on strike - they want a new
collective agreement that provides the patients we serve with the emergency
response times and services they deserve," Strohmaier said. "We want the
provincial government to start working with us to improve the deteriorating BC
Ambulance Service and give paramedics fair wages and working conditions so
they can give the public the best possible emergency service when they need
it."
    Strohmaier said any job action taken by the Ambulance Paramedics of BC -
Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 873 - would be limited by Essential
Services legislation that ensures a high number of members would be on duty in
any dispute.
    "The important point we are making is not that the public will be
negatively impacted by any job action - but that they are already strongly
impacted by deteriorating ambulance emergency response times," Strohmaier
said. "The BC Ambulance Service only meets its emergency response time goal of
arriving in under 9 minutes just 52% of the time, compared to 85% in 1985."
    Earlier this month the Ambulance Paramedics of BC launched a
province-wide campaign to demand the BC government provide better ambulance
service, restore faster response times to emergency calls and provide fair
wages and working conditions for paramedics.
    Strohmaier said that the Critical Condition campaign, which features ads
in newspapers throughout the province and a new website -
www.saveourparamedics.com - where the public can send emails to BC Health
Minister George Abbott in support of paramedics, has already gained the
support of thousands of British Columbians concerned about emergency services.
    "Ambulance Paramedics hope that the BC government listens to the public's
concerns and comes back to bargaining with a realistic offer we can accept,"
Strohmaier said. "Emergency ambulance services are too important to let
deteriorate and the public believes Ambulance Paramedics deserve a fair
contract."
    "BC Paramedics are falling behind the wages paid to other paramedics
across Canada," Strohmaier said. "Our members have received only a 2% wage
increase in the past four years and we are now paid 19% less than Metro
Toronto paramedics and 23% less than paramedics in Oshawa for doing exactly
the same critical work."

    Background at website: www.saveourparamedics.com





For further information:

For further information: John Strohmaier at (604) 273-5722 or cell (604)
790-0873; B.J. Chute at (604) 273-5722 or cell (604) 218-6169 or Bill
Tieleman, West Star Communications at cell (778) 896-0964 or (604) 844-7827

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AMBULANCE PARAMEDICS OF BC

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