Warrnambool paramedics to protest in Spring Street

WARRNAMBOOL paramedics say they will reject the government’s latest pay offer because of plans to make them travel up to an hour in their own time to staff other branches around the south-west. 

Local paramedics will join a rally in Melbourne on Wednesday knocking back the Napthine government’s offer of a 12 per cent pay rise over three years that would have kicked in from January 1. 

The Ambulance Employees Association had proposed the same offer but say the government deal comes with too many strings attached. 

Last week the government went on an advertising blitz talking up its offer that included a $1500 upfront payment. 

“We are seeking more flexibility for ACOs to work outside of their local communities if they want to."

But Warrnambool senior ALS paramedic David Ahearn said the government’s offer which would expire in November 2017 would only equate to 2.4 per cent a year, including last year when the EBA expired. 

“It’s trickery with the figures. It’s only about 2.4 per cent over five years,” Mr Ahearn said. 

“We just want parity with other states. You could live in Warrnambool and work in Mount Gambier and earn $25,000 more.” 

Local paramedics are also voicing anger at plans to introduce a rural relieving system that could see ambulance officers spend an hour of their own time in their own car travelling to cover branches such as Portland or Hamilton. 

Mr Ahearn said the positions should only be advertised and not forced. There are also claims that the government will set a grandfather clause not to replace MICA paramedic services in Hamilton and Portland if they retire. 

Lower trained ambulance community officers (ACOs) could also replace paramedics in towns such as Timboon under wording in the latest EBA offer, Mr Ahearn said. 

In a statement to The Standard, Ambulance Victoria Barwon South West regional manager Mick Cameron said there was no move to replace paramedics with ACOs in rural towns. 

“We are seeking more flexibility for ACOs to work outside of their local communities if they want to,” Mr Cameron said. 

But he confirmed paramedics would be asked to travel up to an hour to other branches — but only in emergencies. 

“We have proposed a statewide relieving system so that short-term unplanned absences like sick leave days are readily replaced by paramedics in the local area. Paramedics would not be required to travel for longer than one hour.” 

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