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March 4, 2015

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Transfer ambulance attendants win bid for mediator

ABBOTSFORD - Striking non-emergency transfer ambulance attendants have put their job action on hold. The 105 members of CUPE Local 873-03 have successfully applied to the BC Labour Relations Board for a mediator in stalled talks with employer SN Transport for a first contract.

CUPE 873-03 stresses that while the workers have been in a legal position to strike since Monday, there is no plan to withdraw services. CUPE 873 President Bronwyn Barter explains that “our first priority is to protect the patients we transport - many of whom are fragile.” She adds that, “our focus remains on pressing the employer to settle a fair contract without affecting patient care.”   The union sees getting a mediator as a major step towards a deal. 

Despite meeting more than a dozen times at the bargaining table and agreeing on many issues, several key areas remain unresolved. These include scheduling, wages, benefits and union representation.  Abbotsford-based SN Transport walked out of talks after rejecting a union call for binding mediation.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents patient care and patient transfer attendants (drivers) in non-emergency patient transfer ambulances. They joined the Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE in July 2014 and have been trying to negotiate a first collective agreement ever since. 

Now that the union’s application for a mediator to the LRB has been filed and accepted, an LRB appointed third party will lead the talks.  All job action is on hold.  If a first collective agreement is not reached within 20 days through negotiation, the mediator can recommend binding arbitration.

Barter says “mediation is in everyone’s best interest – the talks have bogged down and a mediator can help get us back on track to a settlement.  All we’re looking for is a fair and reasonable collective agreement so that we can concentrate on our jobs - looking after the patients we care about.”

CUPE 873 represents approximately 4,000 B.C. ambulance paramedics and emergency dispatchers as well as the transfer attendants. The attendants are in a separate unit of the union local. 


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