‘Code red’ for 16-month ambos dispute

Saturday, December 7, 2013
Ambulance workers rally for a three-year pay rise agreement.

After negotiating for 16 months, the Ambulance Employees Australia in Victoria say they are not much closer to securing a contract that gives them the pay levels they are seeking and protects the quality of their service to the public.

On December 4, the union rejected the latest offer from the state government for a 12% pay rise over the next three years.

Steve McGhie, secretary of Ambulance Employees Australia in Victoria, told Green Left Weekly: “The government offer is technically over five years. We want a three year agreement, paramedics have had no pay increase since August 2011.

“A major issue for us is that they want to take away or change a number of conditions, including the way they pay for shift work, leading to a drastic effect on super entitlements. It will mean tens of thousands of dollars less on the final payout for super.”

Another sticking point for the union is trade-offs that could affect the quality of ambulance services in regional Victoria.

“They want greater use of volunteers in rural and regional areas,” McGhie said. “It concerns us for those towns, it will obstruct the later placement of trained paramedic staff. With respect to volunteers, who do a great job, they aren't the same as trained professional paramedics.”

The union offered to discuss options after refusing the latest offer, and was meeting with Ambulance Victoria in the Fair Work Commission at the time of writing.

“This offer last week is the first since March, there has been an improvement on their first offer, so there is some progress but it's very slow,” McGhie said.

“We're calling on all our members and our supporters in the public to come to the rally on Wednesday, we'll have hundreds of our members, and know we have lots of support from other unions.”

[A public rally for union members and community supporters will be held in Melbourne on December 11. The rally is scheduled for 10:30am at Parliament House.]

From GLW issue 992