N.S. paramedics could strike this week: union

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SYDNEY — A union representing Nova Scotia’s paramedics is bracing for a provincial strike.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727 represents all air and ground paramedics in the province.

Dwayne Fitzgerald, president of Local 727, said the union has been without a contract for over two years.

On May 24, the union rejected the latest offer from private employer EMC Inc., which included wage increases of 1.9 per cent and 1.7 per cent in the first two years.

Fitzgerald said the company proposed extending the contract to five years, but the union would like it to remain at three years and the union is also seeking to replace its defined contribution pension with a defined benefit plan.

“The majority of health care (providers) in Nova Scotia have the defined benefit,” said Fitzgerald. “The defined benefit is a more secure pension.”

Union representatives said they intend to file a notice of strike action with the Department of Labour within the next few days. A strike could occur as soon as Saturday, Fitzgerald said.

 EMC Inc. is subsidiary company of Medavie EMS which is a subsidiary company of Medavie Blue Cross.

The Nova Scotia government holds a contract with the company for its paramedic services, as do several other provincial governments in Canada.

Fitzgerald said to date, there has been no contact from EMC Inc. regarding future talks.

“We do not want to have to resort to strike action but the employer is hell bent on sending us there,” said Fitzgerald. “They obviously don’t like the fact that paramedics have banded together and are taking a stand as a unified force.

“We are willing to be reasonable but we are not willing to have hired guns come in here and take away our livelihoods.”

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