Paramedics poised to go on strike
Published Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:42PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 11, 2012 7:24PM EST
Paramedics across Quebec who belong to the CSN union are sending out a warning: 2,500 of them will go on strike on Christmas Eve unless they reach an agreement with the provincial government.
Because they provide an essential service, no paramedics will miss any work.
“The population has nothing to fear,” said paramedic Yves Bonesso. “We will be covering 100 per cent of the calls.”
They will, however, engage in administrative measures like filling out paperwork in green ink that cannot be scanned by computer, plastering stickers on ambulances, and holding public protests.
The union says it is fighting for pay equity within its ranks, and a better pension plan.
At the moment it takes paramedics 16 years to climb to the top of the pay scale.
Those who started working for Urgences Sante before 1989 are also eligible for $15,000 a year upon retirement. The union says that pension amount is too low.
Further, the option to retire early should be on the table.
“I’ve been doing this job for close to 30 years now and I don't know how long I could carry a patient on a stretcher on the stairs in the winter,” said Bonesso. “I mean you can't do that until 65 years old.”
Paramedics have been without a contract for nearly three years. In May they began wearing grey camouflage pants to work, and in July union executives had worked out a deal that was rejected by 71 per cent of members.
If they strike on Dec. 24, paramedics say their action will be limited to so-called “administrative tactics,” such as filling out forms with the wrong colour pen and public protests.
“As long as the population is being taken care of, we'll deal with the administrative issues on our own… but for us, our main goal is that it does not affect the population,” said David Sasson, director of communications for Urgences-Sante.
Union members say in some cases Montrealers may notice better service during the strike because more employees will be at work.
"The budget the government gives to Urgences Sante is by hours, so they book to 90 per cent and then if they need more they will book overtime, but sometimes they plan not to book 100 per cent," said Bonesso.
"On a strike, on a legal strike, we will be supplying 100 per cent of the list."
The province has not indicated so far that they would be willing to re-open the deal.