Paramedics right to strike essentially questioned

The union that represents Calgary paramedics who are locked in a wage dispute with the city says it's not surprised the province is taking action to prevent a strike. The government has declared a public emergency to head off job action by 400 paramedics. Employment Minister Iris Evans says the move prevents a strike or lockout while a tribunal works on a binding settlement. She also says the government will consider this fall whether to remove the paramedics' right to strike by deeming them to be an essential service.

Bruce Robb with the Canadian Union of Public Employees says he's more concerned about the government permanently removing that right. N-D-P Leader Brian Mason says he's not opposed to protecting public safety by heading off job action. But he also says it would be wrong to permanently remove the workers' right to strike. The union has confirmed that it's seeking a 30-per-cent wage increase over three years for its members. The City of Calgary has offered 12 per cent over the same period.


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