Back-to-work reasoning is just “a smokescreen”

The Revelstoke community depends on Salmon Arm paramedics like Mr Alstad (see his letter, Paramedic angry at BC Liberals’ decision to legislate paramedics back to work) to be available to cross-cover Sicamous and here when Revelstoke’s ambulances are busy or short-staffed.    The people of Revelstoke are endangered if people like him, and crew here in Revelstoke, quit the service in disgust over the disrespect demonstrated by this legislation and the lack of willingness on the part of this government to allow BCAS management to actually bargain in good faith to remedy the ambulance crisis

During our strikeless “Strike” we have been working already, to maximum capacity. The Health Minister’s H1N1 pandemic excuse for short-circuiting our Collective Bargaining process is nothing but a smokescreen, a Stealth manoeuvre, to ram through a one-sided ‘contract’ that will do nothing to ensure that our ambulances are indeed adequately staffed for either a pandemic or the Olympics.  All it might possibly achieve during the Olympics, is the absence of our embarrassing “On Strike” T-shirts and decals.

All this legislation achieves, is to silence our voices which were to be heard tomorrow when our votes on the government’s/BCAS’s bottom-line ‘offer’ were to be counted.   Health Minister Falcon’s insinuation that we are bunch of sheep whose votes simply followed “the Union’s direction” to vote No to the current offer, is yet another show of disrespect for our paramedics and all workers.  Sure our Union Exec advised us on their opinion of the government’s offer, but these votes were freely cast, by secret ballots, by members who want a contract that will actually address the staffing crisis, with not one iota of coercion from our Exec or anyone else.

This denying our human right to fair Collective Bargaining running its lawful course, bodes ill for all the other Public Sector workers who hope to enter into bargaining in 2010.  This in turn bodes ill for the general public who depend on the services supplied by their dedicated work.

I guess this BC government figures it’s worth trading the small potential embarrassment that paramedics’ “On Strike” T-shirts and decals would pose during the Olympics if we were allowed to continue to be on ‘strike’, for the dubious fame of making Canadian history with this anti-worker, anti-human-rights legislation. A great way of celebrating this world Peace and Brotherhood event that originated in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of Western Democracy.

As Harvey Oberfeld points out in his blog, “Make no mistake about it … the legislated end to the B.C.  paramedic strike is all about the Olympic Games. And the B.C. government has trampled on not only the ambulance service workers’ rights, but yours too …. because when one segment of our society has its democratic rights taken away, we all lose some of our freedom.”

Antoinette Halberstadt,
Revelstoke member
Ambulance Paramedics of BC,
CUPE Local 873