Ambos want 10-hour break

August 9, 2009

MELBOURNE — Ambulance workers in Victoria have stepped up their campaign for a 10-hour break between shifts and for wage justice. A mass meeting of 400 ambulance officers voted on August 4 that they would not work on their days off.

The mass meeting concluded that a pay deal with the government was not possible until the issue of 10-hour rest breaks was resolved. The meeting also called for an investigation into a "culture of bullying" at Ambulance Victoria. It passed a vote of no confidence in management.

In July, ambulance workers had planned to hold their first strike in 36 years, but Fair Work Australia ruled the strike illegal.

The Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) has tried to negotiate with Premier John Brumby's Labor government without success for 18 months. The government has refused to seriously consider the ambulance officers' claims, especially the need for longer rest breaks to deal with fatigue.

After the meeting, the ambulance officers were joined by supporters to march to the ambulance service headquarters and Brumby's office.

Figures from the AEA indicate that paramedic workload has increased up to four times as fast as staff numbers in recent years, and fatigue has reached dangerously high levels. In a recent survey of ambulance workers, 87% said fatigue affected their judgement at work.

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