Pickets come down but paramedics, city workers await outcome of council meeting today before returning to work

CUPE members picket Cornwall City Hall, June 1. Nation Valley News, Zandbergen photo

CORNWALL — The pickets have come down but the paramedics of Cornwall and SDG remain in a curtailed “essential services” mode pending Cornwall Council’s expected approval of deals with four CUPE union locals later today.

The paramedics are among a group of Cornwall employees — represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) — on strike for the last three weeks. United Counties residents have also been affected by the closure of “Ontario Works” social services offices in places like Winchester; those employees remain off the job entirely until City Hall gives its OK to the agreement negotiated late last week.

The union announced the pending deal Friday morning. City Council is likely to approve the agreement during its regular meeting this afternoon, according to reports.

The province years ago placed the city in the role of “service provider” of ambulance and social services to the United Counties. Negotiations have been the exclusive domain of the city, leaving SDG politicians on the sidelines.

The strike prompted the United Counties government to advise residents against calling ambulances except in the worst medical emergencies, as the number of paramedics on the road dropped precipitously to provincially mandated “essential” levels.

Employees involved exclusively in city operations — recreation staff, daycare workers, “outside workers” and city library employees  — also walked the picket line during the strike.

Striking paramedics make their point in the United Counties of SDG, seen here picketing the Morrisburg municipal headquarters of South Dundas on May 29. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News



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