After casting votes over the weekend, 90 per cent of the city’s emergency communications dispatchers have voted in favour of job action.
Karen Stoshnof, assistant business manager with the IBEW Local 254 union that represents the workers, said the numbers show there is no split among employees.
“It is rather encouraging that membership has spoken, all with a singular purpose in this case, to give the authority to strike should it get to that point,” said Stoshnof.
Stoshnof said workers hope the situation doesn’t go that far, with discussion talks scheduled from tomorrow to Friday. She is hopeful the discussions will go well with the assistance of an external facilitator.
The City of Calgary is also hoping the talks will go in the right direction and a decision will be reached before strike action is taken.
“Of course we’re disappointed,” said Shannon Carignan, spokesperson for the city. “We know we have dedicated workers in that area, but we are committed and hopeful we will be able to make progress with the talks.”
Carignan also said the city has no intention of asking the province to make the dispatchers an essential service, something Ald. Andre Chabot wants to see.
Calgary police are already preparing for a strike. Acting Deputy Chief Bob Ritchie said they have identified 100 workers who already have communication experience, with 24 of them being front-line officers.
“In the event of a strike, officer scheduling will be done in such a way to ensure there is little impact on our response to calls,” said Ritchie. “However, there may be delays in responding to non-emergency calls.”
Emergency communications officers have 120 days to file a 72-hour strike vote to the city. The two outstanding issues deal with working conditions.
In 2008, the public safety communication centre handled one million emergency and non-emergency calls between police, fire and EMS.
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