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Job action underscores importance of HSA members

The Report: January 1999 vol.19 num.5

by CINDY STEWART

The recent job action taken by HSA paramedical professionals clearlygave our bargaining team the momentum we needed to get a fair collective agreement. Byputting pressure on health employers, we were able to get the provincial governmentinvolved in our negotiations, forcing HEABC to address our issues seriously.

But our job action strategy also had some other interesting spin offs... not all anticipated. Within the labour movement, the health care system and amongthe general public, our job action raised the profile of our members and highlighted theimportant services that we provide to British Columbians.

The media coverage we received was unprecedented. Nearly every dayduring the dispute, we were in the public eye outlining our issues and defending ourrights. With up to 20 or 30 media calls a day, we had to be well prepared and wellresearched. Most importantly we had to show the public that we are reasonable, practical,but determined. HSA has always enjoyed this reputation and it remains intact today becauseacross the province our members rose to the challenge. HSA members came across ascompetent, professional, articulate, intelligent and completely in love with their work.

In particular, our Paramedical Professional Days uncovered parts of thehealth care system that the media and public knew little about. And quite frankly, theyfound it fascinating — the range of services we provide, the complexity of our jobs,our relationships with our patients.

For me personally, dealing with reporters every day was new andsomewhat uncharted territory. While I have done media interviews in the past, Ivenever dealt with this kind of volume. Ive certainly never before had to worry eachday whether my sweater is a good colour for television!

In the end, the experience was nerve-wracking but extremely rewarding.I was so pleased to see HSA gain the profile we deserve and I was so proud to publiclyrepresent such a talented and dedicated group of people.

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