Search and Rescue personnel deserve applause for their dedication despite lack of resources says Union
May 1, 2013
Ottawa, ON – The Union that represents Search and Rescue specialists with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is not surprised at the findings of the Auditor General’s Spring 2013 Report.
“Our members are strong, dedicated individuals so it comes as no surprise that they meet the standard to respond to an emergency 96% of the time. They should be applauded that they are doing so much despite the challenges they face,” said Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.
The Auditor General’s report highlighted the Canadian Coast Guard’s decision to not offer training to ensure that qualified personnel are always available. “We have been telling CCG that our members are worried about the lack of investment in them. We worry about the day to day operations and the lack of succession planning. Ensuring that there is training to guarantee the safety of both the crew and the public is critical,” said Collins.
UCTE is concerned about how the ability to respond might change. “At the time of the audit, both of the Marine Rescue Sub-centres in St. John’s, NL and Quebec City, QC as well as the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in BC were fully operational. With a shortage in personnel looming, and the closure of these vital resources, the Canadian Coast Guard has made Canadians who depend on the water vulnerable. I wonder if it will take another death before they do the right thing,” Collins said.
Union expresses condolences to family and applauds emergency responders despite loss of Kits Coast Guard Station
April 12, 2013
Ottawa, ON – “Our thoughts are with the family of the cargo ship crew member who died from a heart attack yesterday afternoon,” said Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees upon learning of the incident that unfolded in the shadows of the now closed Kitsilano Coast Guard station.
“Police, ambulance, the hovercraft station in Richmond, all emergency responders reacted as quickly as possible and should be congratulated for that. I can’t help but wonder though if things would have been different if the Kits station were still open,” said Collins.
The abandoned Kitsilano Coast Guard station was closed in February 2013 for budgetary reasons despite tremendous public outcry.
“With the other incidents that have occurred in and around the closed Kits station, the people of BC deserve an unbiased thorough search and rescue needs analysis to be completed before another life is loss,” said Dave Clark, UCTE Pacific Regional Vice-President.
Today, Monday March 11, 2013, is the six month anniversary of the strike by 85 PSAC/UCTE members who work at St. John’s International Airport. In solidarity with their struggle for fairness and workers’ rights, PSAC is calling on union members and allies from coast to coast to contact airport CEO Keith Collins and his board of directors to demand the employer return to the bargaining table with a new mandate to negotiate a fair collective agreement. Please take on short minute to send this email. And, please spread this request for support to all of your contacts far and wide.
OTTAWA – NDP MPs (Vancouver – Kingsway)Fin Donnelly (New Westminster – Coquitlam), Libby Davies (Vancouver East) and Don Davies (Vancouver – Kingsway) are launching a petition urging the Conservatives to reconsider their reckless decision to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.
“It is irresponsible for the Conservatives to close this base,” said Donnelly. “Marine safety experts as well as Vancouver police and fire services have stated the Conservatives’ plan will increase response times and put lives at risk. British Columbians are right to be concerned about their safety.”
“There is strong public support to keep the Kits Coast Guard Station open, and our petition will support the community’s voice,” said Libby Davies.
The Kitsilano Coast Guard base responds to about 350 calls each year in Canada’s busiest port. When asked about increased response times in life-or-death situations, the Conservatives cited a new rescue station which will be staffed by students.
The Kitsilano Coast Guard base, one of the busiest in Canada responds to over 350 calls each year. In response to concerns about increased response times in life-and-death situations, the Conservatives cited a new rescue station which will be staffed by students.
“It is unacceptable for the Conservatives to compromise public safety in such an egregious manner,” said Don Davies. “British Columbians deserve to be safe when they are on our waters.”
The petition can be found at http://ndp.ca/savekits
February 20, 2013
Ottawa, ON – “I can’t understand why the Conservative government is doing everything in its power to put Canadians at risk,” said Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees in response to yesterday’s phone call from the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) advising of the immediate closure of Kitsilano Search and Rescue (SAR) Station in Vancouver, BC.
The closure comes as part of a long line of attacks on CCG’s ability to do effective search and rescue. To date, the CCG has closed the Marine search and rescue station in St. John’s, NL which monitored Canada’s longest coastline and now the Search and Rescue Station at Kitsilano, BC which is the busiest port in Canada. The marine search and rescue station in Quebec City, Quebec is 50% closed until qualified bilingual staff can be found and moved to Trenton, ON.
In all instances, public outcry has been tremendous in questioning the rationale for these Conservative government cuts. “Experts, search and rescue professionals, various levels of government officials, mariners from coast to coast to coast and regardless of political or social beliefs, everyone has come out saying these cuts are dangerous,” said Collins. “I question it over and over again – what is the value of a life to this government? Canadians will have to pay a high price to find out.”
February 19, 2013
VANCOUVER - The Canadian Coast Guard is closing the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station immediately - effective today, the union representing the Station crew has just been informed.
Deputy Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas informed the national office of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees by telephone a short while ago.
In response, the UCTE, the Public Service Alliance of Canada-BC, the BC Federation of Labour, the Jericho Sailing Centre and other groups will hold an Emergency Vigil outside the Station at 5 p.m. today to protest this dangerous decision that will put British Columbians lives at risk immediately.
Confirmed speakers include BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Irene Lanzinger, Jericho Sailing Centre General Manager Mike Cotter, NDP MP Fin Donnelly, Mandip Sandhu, whose brother died in 2001 due to Coast Guard cuts and others to be named later.
National UCTE President Christine Collins says the federal government's decision is outrageous.
"To suddenly close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station that serves Canada's busiest port in the middle of the winter with no notice is simply outrageous," Collins says. "The federal government is not listening to British Columbians who have overwhelmingly rejected closure of this station - lives will be lost - that is what all the experts have said. But once again the government is ignoring the experts, as we have seen across Canada."
"I don't want to be in the position of saying 'we told you so' when tragedy strikes, but that's what this decision will mean," Collins said.
BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Irene Lanzinger, who will speak at the vigil, says for the federal government to announce the closure on BC budget day is further proof that Ottawa has disdain for British Columbia.
"Every BC political party, every nautical group, everyone who understands the dangers in these waters has said do not close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station - and the federal Conservative government and its BC MPs have completely disregarded all the evidence that this is a deadly mistake," Lanzinger said. "To do this on BC budget day shows that completely lack of respect knows no bounds."
Bob Jackson, B.C. Regional Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada,[UCTE is a component union of PSAC], said the timing is despicable.
"Even after Vancouver City Council did a report stating clearly that most deaths and serious injuries in our harbour occur in the winter months, the Conservative government still closes this Station - it's offensive and to do it on a day they think will minimize media coverage is even worse," Jackson said.
The attached Mission Statement was drafted by the PSAC National Board of Directors following its retreat in October 2012. It has been endorsed and duly signed by all members of the Board.
|Mission Statement of NBoD.pdf||121.25 Ko|
January 9, 2013 Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) announcement today to replace Search and Rescue personnel with Auxilliary volunteers is a direct insult to mariners in Vancouver according to Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.
“With five auxiliary stations in the Greater Vancouver area, one would think that CCG would want at least one base that would have dedicated, trained professionals with appropriate resources who can deal with any eventuality”, said Collins. “This decision goes to show you that their bottom line doesn’t consider the value of a human life.”
As part of its budget saving measures, the CCG had decided to close the search and rescue station in Kitsilano, BC. The public outcry and criticism from various professional stakeholders over the decision has resulted in this latest move by the government.
The new Auxilliary station will be located in Stanley Park. The issue of the time required to respond to emergency situations in the Kitsilano base area, Canada’s largest port that is crowded with recreational and commercial shipping and boating traffic, will not disappear.
“This is a shell game,” said Collins. “The CCG is trying to create the illusion that all will be well but experience has taught us you can’t replace skilled professionals with well-intentioned volunteer recreational boaters. It’s like asking a St. John’s ambulance responder to do the job of a paramedic. I’m afraid people will die before the decision makers realize that this isn’t a game.”
UCTE will be hosting a rally on January 19, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Jericho Sailing Centre to oppose federal Conservative government closure of the Kitsilano base. The public is welcome.
ST. JOHN’S, NL - The Public Service Alliance of Canada is disappointed that negotiations with St. John’s Airport failed Tuesday. The union appreciates the efforts by Mayor Denis O’Keefe in bringing the parties back together to end a 100 day-old strike. The PSAC negotiating team returned to the table hoping the employer was prepared to move on issues that would result in a settlement. At the meeting, the union focused on the key issues of job security, contracting out and wage parity with workers at Halifax Airport. Unfortunately the employer refused to renew language that it had agreed to in three previous rounds of negotiations and made no substantive change to its wage proposal.
“We owed it to the mayor, to our members, to the traveling public and to our supporters in the NDP and in the labour movement to see if the employer had a mandate to end this strike,” said PSAC negotiating team member Chris Bussey.
The union negotiating team, its lead negotiator and a senior researcher were at the table on Tuesday ready to bargain and eager to settle.
At the meeting, the union clearly outlined a path to an agreement. It quickly became clear, however, that the employer’s proposals on critical issues of job security and contracting-out remained “must haves”.
“Our objectives have been clear from the beginning and throughout this strike,” said Bussey. “The employer knows we will not give up the existing language on job security and contracting-out, which the employer has already agreed to in previous collective agreements. We are not looking to change this language or even to improve it, just to keep the protections that have already been negotiated between the parties. We also want to ensure these protections for future generations of workers.”
The union also believes that weakening job security will do nothing to help the airport’s current difficulty with recruiting and retaining workers. In fact, the union is convinced that weakening protections around job security will only make recruitment and retention a bigger problem.
“Good, secure jobs give workers added reason to stay at the airport,” says Bussey. “Business is booming. The provincial economy is booming. The employer has no good case for concession bargaining at a time like this.”
Despite Keith Collins’ pubic statements, he has been absent throughout this process and was not at the table Tuesday. Until he provides his team with a new mandate, the union does not see how this strike will be resolved.
“We don’t want a prolonged strike. We want a fair contract. We want to do the work we’re proud of. And we want life to get back to normal,” said Bussey.
Members at the St. John's Airport, UCTE Local 90916 have been on strike since September 11, 2012. They provide operational services, including runway clearing, buildings and equipment upkeep, fire, security and emergency services, as well as administrative and billing services. All duties outlined in the Essential Services Agreement are being carried out to ensure the safety of the traveling public.
Our thoughts and support continue to go out to our brothers and sisters of Local 90916 that work at the St. John's International Airport who went on strike as of 5:00 a.m. Monday September 11th.
Members have been without a collective agreement since 2009 and are seeking an economic package that will bring them in line with industry standards for comparable international airports.
"UCTE represents members at most federally regulated airports. St. John's International Airport Authority (SJIAA) is in a very healthy position financially and is expanding to be similar to the size of Halifax Airport. And yet, our members have not received a wage increase since 2008. This is simply not fair," said Christine Collins, UCTE National President.
About 85 maintenance and emergency workers, including fire fighters, equipment maintenance and runway cleaning, are on the picket line after talks broke off with airport management.
"All we want to do is get back to the table to negotiate an agreement that reflects the reality faced by not just our members today but those who will work for SJIAA in the future," said Wayne Fagan, UCTE RVP Atlantic.
If you or your local would like to donate to Local 90916 Strike Fund please send your donation to Attn: Brother Chris Bussey, 150 Indian Meal Line, Tobay NL A1A 1A1