Pay dispute heading to work umpire

THE LONG-running wage dispute between paramedics and the state government will head to the Fair Work Commission this week.

The government took out full page advertisements in newspapers around the state last week, including The Bendigo Advertiser, with a “settlement offer”.

The open letter, signed by Health Minister David Davis, sets out the government’s offer including a 12 per cent pay rise over three years and $1500 signing payment.

The proposed agreement would also see paramedics work a four day on, four day off roster with 10 weeks of annual leave per year.

“Paramedics and their colleagues play a critical role in protecting all Victorians,” Mr Davis said.

“With this in mind, even during these tough economic times, a very generous offer has been put to all ambulance employees in the hope of resolving the dispute over the next enterprise agreement.”

Mr Davis said the offer would “generously” reward paramedics.

But Ambulance Employees Australia of Victoria secretary Steve McGhie said the union was still unhappy with the proposal.

He said the major sticking point was an apparent change in conditions.

“Some of the issues are around the dates of the wage increases and when they apply,” Mr McGhie said.

“The major sticking points are that the ambulance service and government want to take conditions off paramedics.

“Some of those are around the way paramedics receive shift penalties which could see a massive deduction in terms of wage entitlements and lost superannuation.”

Discussions have dragged on since mid-2012, and Mr McGhie said a resolution was not likely this month.

“We’re closer than we were several months ago, but there’s still quite a bit to go,” he said.

“This is the second time the minister has decided to put ads in papers around the state.

“He says it’s to inform paramedics around the state, but they can do that via email or post.

“We think they’ve wasted $500,000 in taxpayers’ money.”

The government revised its pay offer early December, which Mr Davis said would see paramedics with six years’ experience earn $105,000 before overtime. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday. 

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