Paramedicals expand their job action

HEU members prepare for possible pickets HEU activists are preparing for possible picket activity in the event that the paramedical’s rotating job action in the week of Jan. 11 - 15 does not budge the employer’s stance on the concessions they refused to remove from the table during mediation talks. The Health Sciences Association is the lead union in the paramedical professionals bargaining association, which is also made up of the Hospital Employees’ Union, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. “We are hoping that there will be some movement from the employer this week,” said HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “But if pickets go up, our union will act in a principled trade union manner and honour those lines.” HEU’s Provincial Executive has approved picket pay for members affected by any lines set up by the paramedicals. Two rounds of mediated talks did not produce an agreement between the paramedical professionals bargaining association and the Health Employers Association of B.C. On Jan. 8 mediator Brian Foley booked out. The unions reissued strike notice, effective Jan. 11. Paramedicals hope that a week of rotating job action across the province will bring the employer back to the table with more realistic proposals, but failing that they are prepared to put up picket lines next week. Foley said the parties are still very far apart on the classification system, scheduling and work assignments. These are major concessions the employer is refusing to withdraw. Levelling is also a major item still unresolved. HEABC is not offering enough to bring the benefits, wages and working conditions of paramedics who work in the community up to the level of those enjoyed by their colleagues in the facility sector. These are issues which HEU members understand. “We will present a united front to the employer,” said Allnutt. “They will try to drive a wedge between the workers, but that ploy will fail. HEU members know that union solidarity is always our strongest weapon against the employer.” In the absence of a picket line, HEU members are urged to support the paramedicals by refusing to accept overtime when they have been assigned to do work normally carried out by paramedical workers. Casuals are asked to refuse to accept shifts resulting from extra workload created by job action. Questions & Answers for HEU members during a paramedical picket line Question:If the paramedical workers have picket lines which affect members of the Hospital Employees’ Union, will we be entitled to strike/job action pay under our Constitution and By-Laws? Answer: Yes, the Provincial Executive has approved the same proportionate amount paid during our job action on May 26, 1998. The Constitution and By-Laws outline a minimum of $200.00 per week plus $35.00 per week for each dependent. Question: What if I’m working in the community sector for an agency that employs or uses the services of a paramedical? Answer: If you hear any news of a picket line affecting your agency, report to the strike headquarters at or near your employer’s office ahead of your shift for instructions Question: Will members receive strike pay on a pro-rated basis? Answer: Yes, members will be paid $10.00 per hour to a maximum of $200.00 per week, providing a picket time card is completed and signed by a local officer. Question: Will members receive any dependent pay? Answer: Yes, a dependent shall be defined as a person without any taxable income who is totally reliant on the member for financial support. Question: How much will the dependent pay be? Answer: Members will be paid $1.75 per hour for each dependent. Question: How do members claim for dependent allowance? Answer: The Declaration of Dependents section on the picket time card must be signed by the member declaring the information to be true. This declaration is found at the bottom left hand side of the picket time card. Question: Will a member have to prove that they are the sole supporter of the dependent? Answer: No, when the member signs the declaration it indicates that the member has solemnly declared this to be the truth. Question: Is a casual who is scheduled to work and is affected by the picket line entitled to strike pay? Answer: Yes, if any member loses wages as a result of the paramedical picket lines they are certainly eligible for strike pay, provided they fulfill picket duty requirements. Question: Is strike pay taxable? Answer: No. Question: The picket time cards have the original white copy and pink and yellow copies. Which copy is sent to the Provincial Office? Answer: The top original white copy and the pink copy should be sent to the Provincial Office for processing and the pink copies will be returned to you with the cheques. Question: Where will members pick up their strike pay cheques? Answer: This should be determined by the local executive and should be announced and posted on the union bulletin boards. Question: How long will it take to receive the cheques back at the local? Answer: From the time that the picket time cards are received in the Provincial Office it will take approximately five to six days to get them back to the locals. Question: Can we send the picket time cards to the Provincial Office by collect courier? Answer: Yes, unless your servicing representative is available to pick them up and forward them to the office. Question: Will a member be assessed if they work essential services? Answer: Not at this time, members providing essential services will receive their regular wages during job action. Question: How long after the first picket line should we send in the picket time cards? Answer: The picket time cards can be sent in immediately unless you are aware of a further picket line. If so then the picket time cards should be held until after the second picket line so that two cheques do not have to be prepared. Question: What are the consequences of not participating in a job action called by the Provincial Executive? Answer: The Provincial Executive can assess your wages. It also has the authority to suspend or terminate anyone’s membership who is not an essential services worker and continues to work during a job action. Question: Can I be disciplined by the employer if I participate in a job action? Answer: No, your collective agreement contains language that allows you to honour all legal job actions.