Paramedics continue wage campaign

New MICA unit for Sale

AGGRIEVED paramedics used the funding announcement for a new ambulance MICA single responder unit in Sale on Friday to rally for better terms and conditions.

A group gathered in front of Sale’s ambulance station to await the arrival of Health Minister David Davis and deputy premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan.

Ambulance Employees Association union delegate Dave Jones said negotiations on the EBA were stagnant.

“The Ambulance Employees Association wrote to the premier of Victoria in the lead up to this campaign before the end of the last agreement, and said that we would accept an agreement that was broadly in line with government wages policy if they were prepared to agree to a consent arbitration,” he said.

“We’ve continued to offer them that we are prepared to go to a consent arbitration on wages only, they are fairly keen to see us go into a conciliation process that involves quite a bit of give and take.”

Mr Jones said while the government had offered a wage increase, they had proposed to take off entitlements such as leave in lieu of working on public holidays, penalty rates and sick leave.

“They’ve asked for sick leave back from front line staff who are on a day to day basis being exposed to sick patients and have a much higher risk of getting ill on the job than anyone else,” he said.

“During this campaign, essentially when you take the trade offs into consideration where they’ve basically offered us a dollar a week, 2.5 per cent isn’t a lot, then you trade off conditions, it doesn’t really work out to be very much.

“If you do the calculations, on some classifications it was a dollar a week.

“They’ve given themselves a 15 per cent pay rise with a raise of hands in parliament, so we’re really not getting anywhere fast.”

Mr Jones said the recent announcement of MICA single responder units, which were launched as 12 hour units as opposed to 24 hour units, could have implications on response times between the hours of 9pm and 9am.

“The MICA paramedics that are staffing them have come out of existing rosters in branches in Lakes Entrance and Maffra and removed paramedics from 24 hour rotating rosters, who were previously available to provide intensive care services to patients overnight,” he said.

Mr Jones said while the government was putting on 300 paramedics a year, the new recruits were being used to replace attrition and soak up overtime.

“The workload on that time has grown between five and six per cent a year, going off the services own figures.

“It’s a significant issue that while they sell to the public the message that they’re improving resources by putting on more staff, it’s not equating to more ambulances on the road.”