October 8, 2013 at 10:00 AM
It has now been one year since the current collective agreement at Ornge expired. Unfortunately, since August 2012, when the union gave the company notice to bargain, there has been little progress in negotiations.
With their one sided approach, management has consistently demonstrated that they are not interested in meaningful discussions. This dictatorial attitude has spilled over into every aspect of our workplace; grievances have gone unresolved for months and even years, mandated meetings between parties have not been scheduled, shift overruns and duty outs continue at an alarming rate, lifesaving safety training is now considered non-mandatory.
Even with the recent senior management overhaul, respect from the company towards our members is at an all-time low.
Several months ago, the company requested that one person from our union attend "strategic planning sessions.” In addition they insisted that the lone participant sign a confidentiality agreement, meaning that whatever was discussed could not be disclosed to the membership or to other union executives.
Your union actively lobbied the company to allow your elected chairperson and northern and southern union representatives to attend the meetings. We welcome any discussion with the company related to our work, but talks must be held on equal ground, without restrictions and negative repercussions.
The company denied every request for inclusive representation. As a result, no one from your union was present and the membership of District 344 were not represented or consulted in the "strategic plans.”
The company continuously states that they are intent on "open and meaningful dialogue” with its employees. If this were the case, your democratically elected bargaining committee would have been invited to attend the strategic planning sessions without restriction. The applicable content of the meetings would have then rolled over into bargaining. For it is at the bargaining table that we can ensure that worker’s rights and workplace legislation are upheld. Then, if the union and company cannot come to a consensus, there is mediation process in which we can pursue resolution.
In bargaining on September 17, 2013, the union reminded the company that they had a legal obligation to disclose the details of the strategic planning sessions.
The company, represented by COO Rob Giguere and VP of Operations Bruce Farr, presented the issues that were discussed. Giguere told the union that, "If a staffing resolution cannot be agreed upon the company will look at other options to staff, including utilizing doctors and nurses.”
This contravenes The Ambulance Act, which clearly states that anyone working on an ambulance must be a paramedic. Ultimately, Giguere’s statement threatens not only The Act, but the profession of paramedicine.
Unifor at the National level is closely monitoring the situation at Ornge and will be responding accordingly.
Your bargaining committee has always and will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf. It is our honour and obligation to represent you and we will keep you informed of any further developments.
Chuck Telky, District Chairperson
Ornge District 344, Unifor 2002