PARAMEDICS have risked hefty fines to accuse Ambulance Victoria of refusing to pay them as professionals.More than 20 ambulance officers braved cold conditions outside the Warrnambool station yesterday to highlight their concerns over stalled pay negotiations.They said they were frustrated their employer hadn't recognised their level of professionalism and dangerously high levels of fatigue because of insufficient breaks.Crews continued to respond to patient call-outs during the demonstration after Fair Work Australia banned strike action on the grounds it would put lives at risk. Ambulance Employees Australia Warrnambool delegate Jock O'Connor said paramedics had to study for three years and have skills in several areas including obstetric, pediatric and cardiac care. "Our rates are well below that of nurses and we just think for equity sake we deserve more," he said. "You need all of these skills and they're not accepting us as professionals." Ambulance Victoria had offered paramedics a pay increase of 2.5 per cent. Ambulance Victoria spokesman James Howe said the organisation and union had 21 days left to negotiate."They deserve a pay rise and we're keen to get that done for them without the theatrics of industrial action going on in the background," he said.
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