Wimmera paramedic labels State Government campaign as insulting

A WIMMERA paramedic has labelled full-page State Government advertisements as insulting and a waste of money.

An advertisement appeared in the Mail-Times on Wednesday with a message from Health Minister David Davis regarding the paramedic pay dispute.

It detailed the government’s settlement offer of a 12 per cent pay increase for paramedics.

Ambulance Employees Australia rejected the government’s offer on November 28. 

Stawell-based paramedic, union steward and Ambulance Employees Australia state councillor Greg Hallam said it was the second time the advertisements had appeared in major newspapers.

“It is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“The money could be spent on employing more paramedics in the Wimmera.”

Mr Hallam said given the advertisement was a letter addressed to paramedics, there were more cost effective ways to get the message across.

“They could have sent that letter out to us in email and not cost taxpayers anything,” he said.

“Option two, was they send a letter to me at my home address, which would’ve cost only $2000 to $3000 to do so for all paramedics.”

Insulting

Mr Hallam also labelled the letter as insulting.

“There are a few mistruths that have come from the minister,” he said.

Mr Hallam said one mistruth was that the pay rise would be over three years.

“We haven’t had a pay rise since 2011, so it is really a 12 per cent increase over a five-year span, not a three-year span,” he said.

The letter also said paramedics received 10 weeks’ annual leave a year.

“We actually only get four weeks a year,” Mr Hallam said.

“Then we get another week for working shift work – as does everyone who does shift work.

“Then because we don’t take public holidays, we get those placed on us as well – that takes us to eight weeks.

“The majority of paramedics work 40-hour weeks, but we get paid for 38-hour weeks, so we have two hours of overtime a week, which gives us another two weeks off.

“These are the same entitlements as everyone else and it is insulting that the minister is stipulating that we get 10 weeks’ annual leave when we get the same as everyone else.”

First aid

Mr Hallam said he also objected to a State Government proposal to roll out first aid workers who would respond to emergency call-outs. 

“This works well in smaller rural areas, but the government is looking at placing those first aid workers in large regional centres such as Horsham,” he said.

He said on New Year’s Eve additional crews were placed around Victoria, with many crews consisting of volunteer first aid workers. 

“So people thought they were getting a paramedic turn up to their car crash or chest pain, whatever it was, but they were really getting someone with a lower skill set,” he said.

Ambulance Employees Australia state secretary Steve McGhie said Ambulance Victoria would meet the Fair Work Commission and the State Government for talks in March.

“The minister knows we have a scheduled meeting and that matters have not been resolved,” he said.

“So why is he putting the advertisements out there?

“He would be better off focusing on trying to resolve the issue.”

Mr McGhie also described the advertisements as a waste of money.

“I’m not sure what the minister was trying to prove by it,” he said.

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