WIMMERA paramedics will rally against the State Government’s pay offer outside Parliament House on Wednesday.
Eight paramedics from Stawell and Horsham will join hundreds in Melbourne to call for better pay and work conditions.
Ambulance Employees Australia knocked back the government’s offer of a 12 per cent pay rise over three years on November 28.
The union claims the proposed agreement, to expire in November 2017, would see the pay rise spread over five years – equivalent to a 2.4 per cent annual increase.
It proposed a six per cent pay rise this year, followed by three per cent rises in 2014 and 2015.
Stawell-based union steward Greg Hallam said the rally would send a strong message to the government.
“We expect it will be the biggest rally Ambulance Employees Australia has ever seen,” he said.
“At this stage we are looking at more than 500 paramedics, which makes it close to 20 per cent of all our full-time workers.
“I am hoping it will send a powerful message.”
State secretary Steve McGhie warned the government’s offer came with dangerous conditions.
It recommends more volunteer first-aid officers be used to help fill paramedic positions in regional centres.
“While volunteers do a fantastic job, we don’t believe we can trade off volunteers in lieu of paramedics,” Mr McGhie said.
“We think it is detrimental to rural communities – where there is a belief there needs to be more paramedics, then that is what should be sent.”
A State Government advertising blitz last week promoted the offer’s $1500 sign-on payment.
Mr McGhie said the blitz was an attempt to confuse the community.
“The government wants to portray that there is a good offer out there and wants to question why paramedics don’t want to take it,” he said.
“They are trying to claw back some ground from negative media.
“This is not only about the pay but making sure we have enough paramedics in Victoria and that we keep them in the job.
“Fundamentally it is about having a good ambulance service.”
Health Minister David Davis said the proposed agreement would give Advanced Life Support paramedics with at least six years’ experience a total annual remuneration package worth about $110,000 by 2017.
“This is a generous package by anyone’s standards, but it is a fair package that values the work of our highly skilled paramedics,” he said.
“Victorians can see that this is a very generous offer that values the work of our hardworking paramedics.”