North East paramedics reject latest pay and conditions offer

NORTH East paramedics’ push for a new wage deal will head to the Fair Work Commission this afternoon following the rejection of the latest Victorian Government offer.

Health Minister David Davis had offered a 12 per cent pay increase over three years, plus a sign-on payment of $1500.

He has sung the praises for the offer in a full page advertisement on page 13 of today’s The Border Mail.

Mr Davis described what the government had on the table as “a generous and fair offer” in what were “tough economic times”.

The government’s offer comprises a 6 per cent wage increase next year, with further 3 per cent rises in each of the following two years.

The Ambulance Employees Association of Victoria rejected the offer in writing late last week.

Union secretary Steve McGhie said the offer actually covered a five-year period, given that the current agreement expired in November, 2012.

“By our calculations it works out to be a 2.4 per cent wage increase over a five-year period.”

Mr McGhie said a major concern was the government “wanting to strip conditions” off paramedics and the methods by which they were paid.

“That will have a drastic effect on their superannuation and so they could lose tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.

Mr McGhie said that was because of the way shift penalties would be paid under the new agreement.

“At the moment those shift penalties are calculated into their superannuation payments.”

Mr McGhie said North East paramedics’ resolve to get a fair deal was “still as strong as ever”.

Mr McGhie said other concerns included a push to reduce overtime rates of pay for part-time employees and an increase in the use of voluteers.

But Mr Davis said the proposed new agreement would roll-over 2009 provisions, ensuring other existing benefits were preserved.

The dispute is set down for two hours of talks in the commission this afternoon.

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