PARAMEDICS are pushing for a fair hearing in their ongoing industrial dispute.
About 20 Bendigo paramedics joined in a rally at state parliament Wednesday morning. More than 500 paramedics from across Victoria voiced concerns about the conditions imposed in the state government's latest offer of a 12 per cent pay increase over three years.
Strathdale MICA paramedic John Griffiths said a sticking point of the deal was the move to have first-aid trained community officers fill in for full-time paramedics.
"That's a real concern," he said.
"Instead of having a paramedic with years of university training and experience the new arrangements could have people with 90 hours of training responding to an emergency."
Mr Griffiths said the drawn-out negotiations were no closer to fixing the "ambulance crisis".
He said there was a mood of frustration and injustice at the rally but he was buoyed by the large crowd.
"It was by far the biggest turnout we've had at a paramedic rally," he said.
Mr Griffiths said he hoped it sent a message to the state government that paramedics wanted better working conditions.
"We want the ambulance crisis fixed. We don't want to be paid more than other paramedics around the country. We're just after a fair hearing."
A number of parents whose children died after waiting too long for ambulances addressed the crowd.
Mr Griffiths said it was a poignant moment that illustrated the potential impacts of ambulance shortages.
A state government advertisement that labelled the pay offer as "more than fair" also raised the ire of paramedics.
"There's information in the advertisement that is blatantly untrue," Mr Griffiths said.
State Health Minister David Davis has called on paramedics to accept the proposal.
“It is a generous package by anyone’s standards, but it is a fair
package that values the work of our highly skilled paramedics,” Mr Davis
The unresolved dispute may end up before the Fair Work Commission's independent umpire, if an agreement between the government and the union cannot be reached.