No joy on ambulance dispute's second birthday

A SMALL contingent of Warrnambool paramedics have joined a 500-strong march in Melbourne, marking the state’s longest-running  industrial dispute. 

The protesters delivered a birthday cake to Parliament House on Friday, the second anniversary of the ambulance union’s pay dispute with the state government. 

Warrnambool senior ALS (Advanced Life Support) paramedic and union delegate David Ahearn said only a short window was now open between both sides to reach a deal before the government goes into caretaker mode ahead of the election. 

Paramedics rejected the government’s offer which they say amounts to a 12 per cent pay increase over the next five years, including a $3000 sign-up bonus. 

“We’re saying it should be backdated to 2012,” Mr Ahearn said. 

A plan to make rural paramedics fill in for other areas has also drawn the ire of the union. “They want paramedics in Warrnambool to drive to Portland or Hamilton in their own time and in their own cars,” Mr Ahearn said. 

Fair Work Australia this week approved a new set of 27 industrial actions, which will include entering data by handwriting instead of electronically. 

The move would prevent Ambulance Victoria from selling the data to pharmaceutical companies or universities, Mr Ahearn said, 

Health Minister David Davis last week accused the Ambulance Employees Association of dragging out the dispute to aid Labor’s election chances

“Paramedics have not received a pay rise for three years, since August 2011. The time is now and it can happen if paramedics instruct their union to bring a resolution to this dispute,” Mr Davis said. 

Mr Ahearn said members in Warrnambool hoped to see an end to the industrial stand-off. 

“We just want it over and done with,” he said.

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