Vic paramedics take action

June 20, 2009

Victorian paramedics began industrial action on June 19, after enterprise bargaining negotiations with the state government broke down following a year of discussions. A ballot returned 94% support for industrial action.

Paramedics decided they would not participate in clinical trials or relieve managers until their employer, Ambulance Victoria, meets their demands. They will also start taking 10-hour rest breaks between shifts in defiance of current policy.

The log of claims from the Ambulance Employees Australia (AEA) includes a pay rise of 6% a year and a minimum 10-hour break between shifts. Currently, Ambulance Victoria sets a minimum eight-hour period between shifts. Paramedics say this is a major health hazard.

AEA Victorian secretary Steve McGhie said many paramedics only get five hours' sleep between shifts while working more than 15 hours straight. This puts their health, and patients lives, at risk.

"Paramedics are making clinical errors because of the relentless workload and lack of sleep between shifts", he said.

The AEA said emergency response time data from the Metropolitan Ambulance Service showed that about half of Melbourne's suburbs fall below the government benchmark of 15 minutes for 90% of all cases.

The AEA said it would not rule out taking strike action if the Brumby government fails to respond. It would be the first time paramedics have taken strike action in 36 years.

[Show your support for the paramedics by signing the online petition at].

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