Cornwall paramedics, library staff, outside workers on strike

Approximately 250 Cornwall paramedics, library staff and outside workers are on strike as of this morning.

Wages a main issue for 250 workers on strike as of today; 150 more could join next week

Three CUPE unions are on strike in Cornwall, while a fourth says it's poised to strike next week. (Tania Lui/Flickr)

Approximately 250 Cornwall paramedics, library staff and outside workers are on strike as of this morning.

CUPE, which represents the three unions involved, said wages are a main issue that's sending people to four picket lines, including at City Hall.

CUPE representative Keith Sandford told CBC News on Thursday morning he didn't want to give specifics on the wage issue because it's an offer currently on the table.

"The [city's] best, final offer, as they called it, is the same issues that we've been having since September when we had a 93 per cent strike vote on concessions and wages," he said.

"It's nothing [leadership] can take back to the members."

CUPE said 150 "inside" workers could strike on Wednesday.

Their union includes bylaw officers, building inspectors, child care workers and water services employees.

No talks are scheduled, he said.

Fewer ambulances available

There is an essential services agreement between the city and its paramedics, which also serve Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, which means only three out of its nine vehicles will be on the road in the day until the strike is over.

Two ambulances will be available at night, down from six.

The city said only patients with urgent or emergency health needs should call for an ambulance, asking people to take a taxi or personal vehicle if possible.

"We have reached out to our partners, including area hospitals, fire services, police and taxi companies to ask for their assistance in responding to non-emergency calls during the strike," said Bill Lister, chief of Cornwall SDG Paramedic Services in a news release.

"We hope this will allow us to focus on emergency calls only."

The City of Cornwall said in a news release on Wednesday some planned construction projects will be postponed, though priority construction and projects important to health or safety will continue.

The Cornwall Public Library is open, but on reduced hours. The book return is closed, so no overdue fines will be issued.

All library programs and room bookings are cancelled.

Next deadline Wednesday

If the inside workers join the strike next week, it would mean its bylaw officers would only be focusing on traffic and parking during a strike.

Bylaw officers wouldn't be handling fences, signs, animal control, noise and other issues until the strike is over. For serious incidents such as dog bites, the city said to call police.

Cornwall's Richelieu Day Care Centre, its Aquatic Centre and outdoor pools would close if that union goes on strike on Wednesday.