Quebec’s 2,500 paramedics narrowly avoid strike
Published Friday, July 6, 2012 2:12PM EDT
MONTREAL—With Quebec’s paramedics ready to walk off the job at midnight, Urgence Sante announced on Friday morning that a tentative agreement was reached with the union.
While the details of the agreement aren’t public—the union is waiting until it can present the agreement to its members sometime early next week—the breakthrough came as a surprise to many watching negotiations.
After two years without a contract, talks were not progressing well between the provincial government and Quebec’s 2,500 paramedics. Two months ago, the union adopted pressure tactics as paramedics began wearing grey camouflage pants to work.
Negotiations were tangled into areas of disagreement: pensions and pay scale.
Paramedics who started working for Urgence Sante before 1989 are currently retiring with only $15,000 annually in pension—an amount of money far too low to sustain any retiree. The union was looking for a better-funded scheme to help pensioners.
The current pay scale was also considered unfair, with the union looking to shave off two of the 16 years required for a worker to climb to the top of the pay scale.
Quebec’s labour relations board certified the paramedic union’s request for a strike on Thursday, announcing that it was satisfied that essential services would not be disrupted by the strike.
<i>This story is developing.<i>