Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BC paramedics on strike

Ponder, if you will, the ridiculousness of the situation; British Columbia's paramedics are on strike and the folks who should be bargaining with them are under no real pressure to do so since as the paramedics are considered an essential service (and rightfully so), they are not allowed by law to deny service. Wages are part of the story and it is a bit of a hoot really, in a sad sort of way, since your average MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) pulls in over 90K a year, not counting various perks and allowances, while the people who will do their all to save your life in an emergency... Well I am pretty positive that they are not in the 90K+ per year wage bracket. Or even in the 80K a year range.

In fact the entry level position is called Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and is paid $2 per hour to be on pager alert. That's a whopping $24 per day but the BC Ambulance web-site says that this gives the EMR the opportunity to hold another job or to pursue other activities while pulling in that huge $2 per hour. Unfortunately the site doesn't say where these jobs are that the EMRs can grab, you know, the jobs that they can drop every time the pager goes off. I'm sure these jobs are out there and are quite easy to find, but a list would have been helpful.

I was wondering about those EMRs working off-station. In an emergency I would think that time is critical. Having to wait that extra few minutes for the EMRs to be able to drop the job they are working on (you know, to pay the bills and all) and get to the station seems kind of likely to cause some fatalities. I'm sure the folks in charge (the ones who are in no hurry to get the paramedics off strike) have considered this, so I'm not worried.

Those paramedics who are considered "full time" and are paid an hourly wage are not exactly the best paid in Canada (although they are in the top-ten, provincially speaking). They would prefer to be paid a wage comparable to other paramedics across the country. They would also like a wage comparable to BCs other emergency responders (police and fire), but this is something for the bargaining table.

It turns out that everybody's favourite BC premier, the alleged Gordon Campbell, couldn't help but step into the fray. While at a meeting with the Liberal candidate in Vernon, BC, the Gordon was confronted with some paramedics who wanted to discuss the issues. Quicker than tossing back a six-pack and a pint of hard-stuff, Gord tugged a loonie from his pocket and tossed it to a paramedic with the utterly clever accompanying comment of, "Don't spend it all in one place." Good one, Gord. Millions might think you were an insensitive clot for a stupid move like that, but not me, by golly.

It did get me to thinking though. If politicans went on strike, would they be legislated back to work under the essential services act? I understand this is just fantasy since whenegver the members of the legislature have a hankerin' for more money they just vote themselves a raise and some more perks. It's still something to think about though.

Anyway... Humouroceros

They only come out at night... fortunately


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