Paramedic benefits misrepresented

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

I would like to reply again to the statements in the “Davis responds to local paramedics” letter written by David Davis, Minister for Health in the Gippsland Times.

This letter was aimed at myself and two fellow work colleagues who addressed his first letter to the editor.

In the article, Mr Davis continues to attempt to inform the public on what we ‘allegedly’ earn and what the ‘alleged’ conditions of this EBA are.

I’d like to set the record straight.

Mr Davis and I both know that the current Victorian government has no intention of giving paramedics one cent more than the State Government Wages Policy which is currently 2.5 per cent per year.

I’d like to make the point that the current government offer of a $3000 sign on and 12 per cent total pay rise, while sounding somewhat impressive to the public, is still going to keep Victoria’s paramedics among the lowest paid in Australia (30 per cent behind some other states).

When spread over five years it is effectively less than the original offer of 2.5 per cent per year for three years.

The longer the State government and Ambulance Victoria can drag out negotiations the more impressive the figures become.

In another 12 months time it will most likely be 15 per cent which still equals 2.5 per cent spread over six years.

The $3000 sign on, again seeming generous, is less than half of what paramedics have already given up to fight this Ambulance Victoria and Victorian government raid on our working conditions.

Mr Davis reported 539 new equivalent paramedics in his newspaper advertisements.

It is interesting to note that no new full-time, stretcher bearing ambulance resources have been added to the Ambulance Victoria fleet in Gippsland.

We have had two new MICA single response unit (SRU) launched out of Bairnsdale and Sale recently.

They both operate 9am till 9pm, this leaves East Gippsland relying on Morwell’s MICA units to serve our communities and possibly long waits on scene.

Mr Davis knows we already had a MICA presence in Gippsland.

Before the MICA SRU roll out we had multi MICA officers filling 24 hour rosters throughout Gippsland.

This presence has been reduced to fill the MICA SRU roster.

Why is the MICA SRU service in Bairnsdale and Sale not 24 hours a day Mr Davis?

People still get acutely ill overnight and require a MICA skill set.

Mr Davis and I both know, the two main reasons the EBA has stalled for the Victorian government and Ambulance Victoria is because they have tried to remove union facilitation and continue to have ‘Rural Reserve’ as a condition of signing for paramedics.

Mr Davis and I both know, the current government is trying to remove union facilitation from the workplace completely, not prevent its expansion as he reported.

There is no way paramedics will remove the right to have a union presence from our workplace.

I’m not sure Mr Davis knows the ins and outs of Rural Reserve?

Essentially, it forces its staff to work nightshifts and drive ‘about’ (meaning this could be over) an hour to and from their home branches to other branches in their own car, at their own expense and at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.

‘Rural Reserve’ is an unsafe work practice and should never be implemented.

I believe by making paramedics work 14 hour nightshifts and forcing them to drive ‘about an hour’ from their home branch is a gross breach of employer duty of care that is negligent on AV and the Victorian Government’s behalf.

It is proven that a fatigued driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver (tac.vic.gov.au).

It has also been proven that a fatigued driver is twice as likely to die in a road accident because you are unable to brake while you’re asleep (paramedics driving home solo on 100km/h rural roads).

By forcing ‘Rural Reserve’ on paramedics you take away the ability of paramedics to use measures to ensure their own safety by living closer to their workplace.

A possible solution to ‘Rural Reserve’ can be implemented by the way of ‘voluntary relievers’ in smaller catchments no more than 25kms from each other (Sale, Maffra and Heyfield locally).

Mr Davis and I both know $110,000 package is unrealistic considering an ALS6 Paramedic gross $62,000 plus $9,000 optional salary packaging.

You still seem to be around $30,000 shy of the $110,000 mark according to my tax man Mr Davis.

Meal entertainment is an option if you eat a lot of fast food and like to rent out venues.

Our 10 weeks annual leave is incorrect.

We have five weeks annual leave and time off for hours we have worked in a 42 hour week (ADO’s) and the loss of weekends, public holidays, Christmas and Easter.

Another reported ‘generous inclusion’ is the $9,600 a year defined benefit superannuation scheme – ESSS (Emergency Services Superannuation Scheme).

This was set up specifically for Emergency Services personnel.

If Police, Fire, Ambos and SES were not to access the scheme, then who does?

As far as I’m aware, employers are required to pay employees’ super, but super won’t pay the bills for the next 30+ years of employment.

Mr Davis, you can have this EBA very close to being signed off right now.

Allow the current union facilitation to remain and remove the unsafe, ‘Rural Reserve’.

Then implement a voluntary relieving rostering system covering branches no more than a 10-15 minute drive from each other.

This will give Ambulance Victoria the workforce flexibility it craves without risking its staff’s health and wellbeing.

This is not a political jostling exercise, 98 per cent of the Ambulance workforce voted to continue EBA negotiations, you have Labour voters and Coalition voters amongst your paramedic workforce.

We just want a fair deal without risk to our health and safety at work.

I am happy to meet with you to discuss the matter further if required.