Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alberta's PC Government VS Paramedics

You know who I want to feel happy and fulfilled in their jobs? The Paramedics saving my life. Given just how vital, intricate and high stress a job it is, the last things I would want them to worry about are toxic labour relations and whether they're about to be deprived of their hard won pension benefits.

The Alberta government decided to go another way.
EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 18, 2009) - Over 2,800 health care workers lost the right to be represented by the union of their choice today as Minister of Labour Hector Goudreau announced details of how health care restructuring will impact employees.

CUPE Alberta President D'Arcy Lanovaz met with the Minister today and was told that 1,200 Paramedics belonging to CUPE, along with 1,600 health care workers belonging to CUPE and CEP would be merged into existing bargaining units with other unions.

"The Conservatives told health care workers they can no longer belong to the union of their choice," said Lanovaz.

CUPE had been asking the government to make arrangements for health care workers to stay with their existing unions.

Rick Fraser, President of the Calgary Paramedics, explained that the move was really an attack on the pension plans of his profession.

"It took a long time, but paramedics recently won a pension plan that treats us like firefighters and police, allowing us to retire early," said Fraser. "We've been told repeatedly by government authorities that when the transfer happens, we will no longer be emergency personnel, but rather health care workers. In other words, our pension is gutted."

"This is nothing more than an attack on Paramedics and other health care workers," said Lanovaz. "An attempt to cut costs on the backs of the people who save lives."

Lanovaz said he didn't expect the decision to stand. "There is a new reality thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions giving unions and our members more rights in these situations. The Conservatives think they can do what they want, but the reality is going to prove much different."
This is deliberate humiliation, the usual ritualistic 'Sticking it to Labour' like the Alberta Labour Board Finning decision that was so grotesque the Alberta Appeals court overturned it. It's all to remind Alberta workers who's in charge. They don't have to do this shit, they want to.

But Lanovaz is right, the new Court rulings affirming right to representation in Canada change the game.

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