An open letter to Premier Gordon Campbell

Editor’s Note:

Members of the Shuswap Columbia District Labour Council have issued an open letter to Premier Gordon Campbell, which is also being circulated as the preamble to a petition, regarding the staffing crisis at the BC Ambulance Service and what it may portend for other government employees.

A video of paramedic and SCDLC Vice-President Antoinette Halberstadt reading the letter at an SCDLC rally in support of paramedics has been produced by The Revelstoke Current and is available for viewing on the front page of the news site. Here’s the letter:

To: Premier Campbell,
Office of the Premier,
PO Box 9041
Victoria BC V8W 9E1

Dear Sir,

We the undersigned are becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of our community, and for the future of democracy in BC, given the way the BC Government has been trampling on the human rights of ambulance paramedics and ignoring their proposed solutions to the staffing crisis in the BC Ambulance Service.

Public safety is at risk if the workers who serve us are not allowed to negotiate fair and safe working conditions that enable them to do their valuable work.

Democracy for our whole society is at risk when workers are denied the fundamental human right of freely negotiating their working conditions with their employers, and when legally enshrined measures to ensure free and fair collective bargaining are thrown out the window.

In the case of BC’s ambulance paramedics, the employer is you and your Liberal government.   For about 8 months your appointees at the so-called ‘bargaining table’ with the paramedics’ union, CUPE 873, never budged, never bargained, simply stuck to the bottom line you had given them, while the paramedics attempted to honour the terms of the impossible Essential Services Order (ESO) you had imposed on them.   Despite the paramedics exhausting themselves and risking their own and their patients’ safety by working forced overtime etc under this ESO, despite the paramedics upholding the ESO, this government slapped them with Bill 21.

In November, in a move that is unprecedented in Canadian history, Bill 21 imposed a one-sided “contract” on the BC paramedics right in the middle of the prescribed Bargaining process, right when their vote on their employer’s offer was about to be counted.   It turns out that your government did this because VANOC told you to, in the hopes of ensuring that the Olympics would not be disrupted by an ambulance paramedics strike.

And this so-called ‘contract’ does nothing to solve the recruitment and retention problems plaguing our Ambulance Service.    If this is how disrespectfully these workers, who are so essential to the safety of our community, have been treated leading up to the Olympics, we very much fear what will follow the Olympics, not only for our BC Ambulance Service as the paramedics’ next contract is due to be signed at the end of March, but also for the other 200,000 public sector workers who serve the interests and wellbeing of the general BC public.

Be advised, Mr Premier, that we will not sit back and watch the ongoing unravelling of the fabric of democracy, nor the erosion of the safety and quality of life of our community.  The Charter rights of BC’s public employees, and indeed all workers,  must be respected.

Signed ……..  (please see next page)

Cc:  Revelstoke Times Review;   The Revelstoke Current.

Signatures to Open Letter to Premier Campbell, Jan 27th 2010, Revelstoke BC

Name Signature Union (if any)  and position (if any)

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