Napanee – After three days in conciliation, and with bargaining at a stand-still, members of OPSEU local 422, which represents paramedics in Lennox & Addington, have reached their limit, filing what’s called a “no-board” with the Ministry of Labour. Now that the no-board has been filed, the countdown to a strike or lockout is underway.
“This has been a deeply troubled bargaining process,” said OPSEU local 422 president Randy Snider. “With an employer that’s unwilling to move forward, we’re forced to take action, even if that risks a strike or lockout.”
According to Snider, any form of strike or lockout would be affected by existing essential services agreements, which ensure that levels of service are not reduced. But after two and a half years without an agreement – dealing with an employer that refuses to address key bargaining issues and continues to stall – something must be done for these paramedics.
“It’s delay after delay, but enough is enough,” said Snider. “No matter how reasonable our demands are, the employer refuses to accept them.”
Local members are eager to negotiate a contract, and are calling on the County of Lennox & Addington Ambulance Service to come to the table and concentrate on bargaining. Some of the members’ concerns include scheduling, workplace health and safety, harassment language, and fair wages.
“These employer delays are nothing more than an intimidation tactic,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “These members face a toxic workplace, with an employer that won’t cooperate at a basic level. But these members also have the full support of OPSEU behind them, and they will not be intimidated.
“It’s time to get with the times,” said Thomas. “These paramedics are on the frontlines of care, but how can they be expected to do their jobs properly, when they aren’t being treated properly? When it comes to wages, they’re only asking for fairness – this is not radical stuff.”
“The employer needs to stop the distractions, and focus on bargaining – it’s that simple,” said Snider. “We want to encourage a healthy workplace, and healthy labour relations; we want to focus on doing our jobs and serving our community, but bargaining with this employer has been distressing.
“We don’t want this to end in a strike,” said Snider. “Our goal is, and always has been, to negotiate a functional and fair contract. Our members deserve it, and with the full strength of OPSEU behind us, we’ll continue to demand it.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Randy Snider, 613-929-5340