To view the CAMC document with added information from your AEAWA Committee please click here. We urge all officers to truly understand the serious ramifications these proposed changes have for our profession and the people of Western Australia.
The AEAWA response to the Clinically Appropriate Model of Care Document
The 2021 Paramedics/Ambulance Officers EBA Negotiations Team
Donelle Carver – AEAWA Vice President
Lee Waller – AEAWA Secretary
Dave Higgins – AEAWA Executive
Dave Abbott – AEAWA Delegate
Michael Hardwick – AEAWA Delegate
Gary Davies – AEAWA County (North) Delegate
Dave Bryant – AEAWA Country (South ) Delegate
Conrad Fairhead – AEAWA Delegate
Marty Kelly – AEAWA Treasurer
Jon Flockton – AEAWA County (South) Delegate
2020 EBA Minutes
AMBULANCE OFFICER / PARAMEDIC EBA UPDATE
Please brace yourselves for the very unexciting update following today’s EBA negotiation. The 10th meeting so far.
This meeting was cut short today at request of St John and so a number of agenda items were not covered including:
Return to Work policy
Reasonable Overtime / Shift Extensions
This meeting was again frustrating, with lots of meaningless circular discussion which achieved virtually nothing, and practically zero progress on the issues which our members feel are important. It also appeared that throughout the negotiations St John looked to us to solve their problems.
Paramedic Special Operations (PSOJ ‘On Call’ (SJA)
The AEAWA were asked for feedback (again) but as previously communicated it is impossible to provide feedback without concrete detail of the proposal. The PSO team have discussed the SJA proposal during the last week, and quite frankly the more this proposal is examined, the more questions arise as to exactly how this proposal will operate. The model currently appears unsustainable, and without concrete details of how this ‘On Call’ model will operate, we are unable to agree to this proposal. This situation is further complicated by the late and concurrent suggestion that St John plan to introduce a new staffed 4X4 ‘on road’ roster for PSO ‘at some point’, in addition to the proposed (but apparently separate) ‘On-Call’ component. It was highlighted to SJA that it is extremely difficult to understand the nuances and implications of an ‘On Call’ proposal without knowing what the eventual plan is. The possibility of a rostered PSO vehicle will of course have implications for any proposed ‘On Call’ system, and so St John need to put their cards on the table to progress this matter.
Furthermore, it was highlighted to SJA that the ‘On Call’ proposal would constitute a significant change in conditions, whereby PSO’s would be expected to work busy metro shifts, followed by being ‘On Call’ overnight, all for 0.5% of the SAO weekly base rate of pay. There is no consideration of fatigue, social life implications, nor the impact such on call rostering system would have on the ability to undertake secondments or country relief, or plan leave. It is our view, that St John have offered NO incentive for ‘On-Call’, and if St John want 24/7 coverage they need to roster fully paid staff to a 24/7 roster (which most likely will be fully funded externally anyway). Finally, PSO’s are a highly trained and highly deployable resource. As such, St John were requested to propose a dedicated classification for PSO’s under the agreement, with an appropriate pay scale commensurate with CSP rates.
Discussion took place regarding a proposal from both bargaining groups requesting a change to the uniform which would more clearly delineate career professional ambulance officers and paramedics from EMT/Volunteer and Event Health Officers. The AEAWA recognise that St John believe the current uniform is ‘branding ’ however this branding issue frequently results in the media giving false accounts of ‘paramedics’ attending patients in country locations etc. However, as we are sure you suspected, St John have declined to make changes that would differentiate between career / volunteer. St John argued that the community do not ‘pay attention’ to these things, however, we feel that this is exactly the issue. St John are happy to trade on the consistency of uniform to allow the community to think they receive a certain standard of care, when the reality is the level of clinical care and responsibility is markedly different (despite volunteers doing their best with the training they are provided).
The AEAWA enquired as to why officers are unable to order ‘coveralls’ (onesies). St John denied that they had been ‘removed’ because a certain executive did not like this item of uniform, and stated that this was ‘purely a supply issue’. However, AEAWA delegates responded by informing SJA that they had in fact contacted Yakka/Workwear Online and been informed that the ‘coveralls’ line item had ‘been deleted’. St John blamed the lack of progress with uniforms on the pandemic.
On the subject of manufacturing, the AEAWA believe St John should support local business and attempt to source nationally manufactured uniform products where possible (in addition to PPE and other consumables vulnerable to international supply chain issues), in accordance with St John core value of ‘shaping the community’, and of being ‘sensitive to their environment’.
The AEAWA argued for more appropriate uniform options suitable for pregnancy, and St John agreed that the planned uniform committee will manage this.
St John agreed to consider a climate friendly uniform specifically for North West officers but also a range of more uniform options for officers statewide which are more friendly to the prevailing weather conditions across the state. However, SJA again want to shift these EBA items to a separate committee.
Special Leave clause (AEAWA)
St John sought feedback in relation to their proposed special leave clause. The AEAWA identified that the proposed clause still allows only 6% of the total number of metropolitan employees in established vehicles completing on-road shifts. We reiterated our claim in relation to increasing the availability of special leave positions from the current 6% to a figure of 8% which we believe would offer St John a cost neutral (these offers have generally already accrued these hours) way for St John to facilitate improved work life balance for shift workers, and reduce ‘unplanned absence’.
The AEAWA recognise the approval of our claim to increase maximum special balance from +48 to +96. The AEAWA highlighted that the clause regarding forced payback of negative special leave balances is currently inconsistently applied at best, and leads to officers being surprised and unprepared for the docking of 50% of overtime. This clause either needs clarifying, or changed to provide a notice period for officers. St John agreed to clarify this section of the draft clause.
Special Leave Blackout periods (AEAWA)
The AEAWA questioned the current Special Leave blackout periods which seem quite arbitrary and often include days surrounding public holidays, not just the public holiday themselves. We are unsure if this is necessary or even fair, and requested SJA to provide data staffing over these Special Leave blackout periods.
Job Share (AEAWA)
St John presented their draft Job Share clause for consideration. The AEAWA are still digesting the significant detail provided in this clause and will respond in due course.
Secondments (SJA). The AEAWA responded to St John’s proposal to increase the length of secondments. At this stage we have serious reservations in allowing St John to alter this clause as we have numerous examples where SJA have circumvented the existing clause to extend secondments. However, minimal discussion took place on this agenda item and it will be re-tabled for a future negotiation meeting.
Managers on Road (SJA)
St John have recognised that the level of resistance to changing this clause was extremely high, and have therefore agreed to drop this clause from their claim.
Claims Regarding Career Progression and Recruitment Process
A reminder here that the AEAWA claim requested the current recruitment process be revised to be more fair and transparent. Currently advertised positions are filled through a process claimed to be ‘merit based’ process. The AEAWA committee believe that no matter what ‘scoring’ is achieved by an applicant for their previous qualifications, experience or training, the final decision always seems to be based purely on interview performance / personality alone. Today we argued for a system which also factors in other important variables and these should carry some weight in determining an applicants final ‘score’. We acknowledge that interview performance is an important variable, but we do not feel it should be the sole deciding factor. Many other state ambulance services assign points for various criteria and assessment processes, which carry through to the final interview stage, resulting in an overall score helping to determine the successful candidate. St John resisted change initially but we are determined to see improvements in fairness and transparency in terms of career progression and appointment.
Pre-Shift Checks Claims
SJA commenced discussions stating they have previously circulated a draft SOP regarding Pre-Shift checks, and sought feedback both on the SOP and our claim for paid Pre shift checks. The AEAWA are mindful that the introduction of paid pre-shift checks would potentially involve extending the length of their working day. For many of our members with childcare responsibilities or other family arrangements, this may negatively impact their ability to regularly be at work ‘early’.
Despite the fact that many of our members are already at work prior to the start of their shift, there is currently NO obligation to do this. Following feedback from our members, we have decided to pursue an alternate approach which we hope will see St John provide concrete instructions on what ‘start of shift checks’ (medication, ambulance equipment, vehicle compliance) are required before attending a case, and therefore indemnify officers in the event items of equipment are either missing or faulty, which later prove critical in the course of a case. This will be discussed in coming weeks and we will of course do our best to keep you informed.
The next meeting will be 23 June 2021.
AEAWA Negotiation Team
The 9th scheduled EBA meeting took place yesterday between St John and the bargaining groups. With Ambulance Director Deon Brink on annual leave, this negotiation was initially chaired by Medical Director Paul Bailey before he departed after receiving feedback on the Clinical Appropriate Model of Care (CAMC) from both bargaining groups. Aside from CAMC, discussions took place on the organisation’s proposal for Special Operations Paramedics, Special Leave, Job Share Country, Meal Breaks, Defence Service Leave, and Exam Leave for SAO’s, Paramedic Special Operations.
St John discussed a previous Draft roster proposal for PSO on call to improve availability and response time. Today after discussion, St John proposed to have a 4×4 roster staffed by PSO with an associated on call roster. We have agreed to respond to the proposed model at the next meeting.
Job Share Country
A significant amount of discussion took place regarding the finer workings of a job share mechanism in Country WA, in particular would the first 104 weeks ‘out of depot’ following entering into a Job Share arrangement keep your previous full time permanent position, either in metro or country (similar to secondment allowances), and what outcomes may occur should a job share arrangement collapse in Country.
‘Clinical Appropriate Model of Care’ (CAMC)
St John presented a document written with the aim of ‘addressing some concerns and questions’ raised at previous meetings. We are confident you will receive this document soon from St John. We have attached a short document below which responds to some of the main claims in the St John document. Due to Facebook limitation we cannot attach more than one document, but the website will have links to both the St John sales pitch and our response document. After presenting their document, St John requested feedback.
Both bargaining groups unanimously and unequivocally responded that the document does not address any of the concerns raised, and is simply a rehashing of a previous sales pitch. The document and the model itself STILL does not address what most people on road want to see, which is a focus on the unsustainable night shift workload, ramping, inappropriate P2 transfers which get ramped, RFDS transfers, P2 inter hospital transfers, and 3am hospital discharge to nursing home. St. John were informed that there is virtually no appetite among on road staff to divide the workforce onto different conditions and reduce the average wage of Paramedics in WA to make us (on average) amongst the lowest paid jurisdictional ambulance service Paramedics in the country.
Overall, we are sad to say that discussions lasted just minutes on this topic as St John have not sought to address our previous concerns and recommendations.
Some discussion took place following presentation of a revised Special Leave clause by St John. As mentioned last fortnight St John have agreed with AEAWA’s Claims to increase special Leave balance to a maximum of 96 hours. The clause they have drafted requires further scrutiny as it runs over 2 full pages and was only presented mid-meeting. There are a few areas which will require further negotiation, for instance, St John retain the right to pay only 50% of overtime to reduce a Special Leave negative balance (as they are permitted in per current agreement), however we would like to see a fairer mechanism of forced repayment including notice of at least 2 weeks before overtime is taken by St John. There are also details regarding the utilisation and transfer of Special Leave between metro and country. We will update our members once we have digested the detail.
St. John seem to be engaging with our claim for paid meal breaks. St John presented modelling data which indicated a claim for meal breaks would require up to ‘8 additional crews’ between 11am and 7pm, and up to ‘6 additional crews between 11pm and 3am’.St John argued that the data showed that to ‘maintain current response time performance’ for each crew on a meal break they would need roster an additional crew to cover them. The AEAWA highlighted that the organisations need to replace every single crew on break is due to the FACT we have ZERO % standby capacity through much of the day, and therefore no buffer to account for a single crew on a break. As anticipated and outlined previously to our members, the ability for an ambulance service to manage a meal break obligation would hopefully have important ‘knock on’ effect of requiring more crews on road. St. John suggested that they may consider offering shorter shifts to officers wishing to work part time contracts, which would assist to cover these peak meal break periods.
Exam Leave SAO
St. John presented revised costing for our proposed Exam Leave for SAO’s of $213,917. Again we argued about the calculation here as variable days off would only be required depending on shift colour and where the exam was scheduled (ie it might be on day 2 or night 3 which would affect the number of days off required). At the last meeting St John indicated that they have been ‘very flexible’ in allowing SAO’s to have time off to undertake exams. Following feedback from members, St John were today informed that this is NOT the case, with officers being told to ‘organise their own special leave’, then finding all special leave spots filled already. Employee relations gave us assurances that arrangements should be made in the interim while negotiations are ongoing. So we encourage all SAO’s who have problems arranging time off to contact us at [email protected].
Defence Service Leave
Revised costings were presented by St John of $36,452 (down from previous estimate of $182,162…hence the importance of scrutiny) for an increase in DSL from 4 shifts to 10. Following feedback from membership, St John were challenged as to whether they have registered for and sought the Employer Support Payment compensation scheme whereby the government financially compensate the employer to allow staff to undertake defence duties. St John seemed unaware of this potential scheme and promised to investigate. We will now be moving to weekly meetings. St. John indicated that these meetings may well run shorter and therefore our future meeting summaries could well be shorter. Please rest assured we will do our utmost best to keep you updated on any important factors while we iron out the detail of any clauses (often the detail is critical, but uninteresting until you need it), but we will share as much as time and resources allow.
We thank our members for their continued support. Please view the CAMC document which the AEAWA have added to for your information.
We urge all officers to review this document, located under the meeting 9 links on the webpage.
AEAWA Negotiation Team
Today we held the 8th scheduled EBA meeting. This meeting covered some important topics, but again there was no further discussion of one of the major proposals by SJA, the Clinical Appropriate Model of Care (CAMC). In addition to the topics below, discussion often veered towards the crisis currently facing St John, and as to how any of their proposals will address the main troubles facing the ambulance service…hugely insufficient SOC staffing with thousands of calls going unanswered each day, and insufficient operational staff, no fleet availability, and ramping. While this occurs St John seem determined to take yet more staff off road to manage name badge placement, nail varnish colours and shoulder length hair. Below follows a summary of the topics covered today:
Remove Travel Allowance for Casual Paramedics (SJA)
After the usual pleasantries the meeting began with SJA requesting AEAWA to respond to the proposed travel allowance clause. You may remember this proposed clause seeks to formally remove the travel allowance from Casual Paramedics. Superficially this would appear to be a minor/insignificant claim from SJA, however we suspect that this is part of a bigger scheme to vastly increase the number of Casual Paramedics in the longer term, in conjunction with the Intern/Qualified Paramedic model. SJA have recognised there is a significant and growing number of graduate Paramedics, and we believe they want to meet increasing demand by employing lower paid casual staff, whom will not be eligible for annual leave/sick leave/superannuation/long service leave.
These Paramedics will have no job security, and will be used to match demand more cost effectively than overtime. HOWEVER, the AEAWA want an ambulance service that is properly resourced with permanent staff, to ensure a standby capacity as recommended by the 2009 Joyce Report (52.5%), not one that staffs it’s fleet ‘just enough’ to get through the day. We don’t need to tell our members that the service is more than busy enough to warrant many more permanent paramedics, as we see every day in the form of
thousands of calls ‘re-queued’ to SOC, the delayed responses our patients receive, and shift extensions.
Special Operations Paramedics – On Call Case Study (SJA)
SJA provided further detail regarding the proposed ‘on call’ roster for Paramedic Special Ops (PSO’s), however there still remains far too much ambiguity in the outlined plan to allow scrutiny of the detail. SJA were advised that while we remain supportive of the concept of a reliable capability to respond to incidents requiring PSO’s, we need more detail, and perhaps they should consider a phased introduction of their ‘on call’ system that is tied to the promised increase in PSO numbers, to ensure this actually happens.
Special Operations Paramedics – Clarify Remuneration Claim (AEAWA)
The AEAWA want to retain PSO allowances but held off on further commitment regarding numeration pending further detail on the proposed PSO ‘on call’ system.
Discuss claim costings (SJA) SJA provided further detail of their estimated costings (‘claims costing bank’) of the combined log of claims made by the representatives bargaining groups, and their equivalence (or impact) on any pay increase. For reference, their estimated costs are listed in the attached document. A number of these calculations were challenged, such as those provided for the SAO Exam Leave claim. Here, SJA had budgeted 4 shifts leave for each and every SAO for every single exam, thereby forecasting
an unrealistic ‘worst case scenario’. Clearly a student ambulance officer may have an exam on day 1 of their set, day 2, night 1 or night 2, and exams will not be on weekends, therefore they will generally only require only 1 or 2 days leave at most. We believe the costing/liability for St. John should at most be 50% of their
Further, it was highlighted that SJA’s inclusion of Defence Service Leave on the ‘claim costings bank’ was insulting to those officers who volunteer in defence of our country, and should be removed from the ‘costing bank’ and regarded as a negligible cost. The AEAWA also challenged the assumption that an increase of 4 shifts DSL to 10 shifts would not result in a ‘3 fold increase in uptake’. We absolutely refute that people would sign up as a defence reservist simply to take advantage of what would still be a very conservative
leave allocation of 10 days, given the commitment required and risks associated with serving our country overseas in the defence service.
Finally, SJA failed to outline, as requested, the ‘savings bank’ of their proposed ‘Clinical Appropriate Model of Care’. The total ‘claims costing bank’ (according to St John) equates to a +9.43% pay increase. However, we believe the CAMC model would produce savings which would vastly dwarf these ‘costs’.
Mental Health Leave
SJA response: NO
SJA have declined this on a cost basis stating that there was no other business unit that receives mental health leave, they believe 100% of staff would access this non cumulative leave, and the cost of supporting the mental health of front line first responders too high. SJA do not see why operational employees can not ‘just access their personal leave’.
SJA believe Managers Discretionary Leave (MDL) is frequently used to provide employees with time off after critical incidents. SJA refused to compare the 2 days ‘Leisure leave’ available to Administration and Support Services employees within St. John to our claim, stating that the 2 Leisure days were offered to Admin staff in compensation for 2 former public holidays previously available to staff (we’re investigating this).
The AEAWA argued that two independent enquiries into St. John (Pheonix Report and Chief Psychiatrist Report) in relation to the management of staff and the exposure to trauma and mental health impacts on first responders highlighted leave inflexibility as one of the major failures, preventing staff from managing their own mental health and level of burn out, and being able to act when they recognise a build of of stress. We strongly feel that the work undertaken by first responders cannot be compared to other ‘business units’, and this comparison should not determine leave entitlements.
Further, the AEAWA argued that MDL requires a disclosure of an individual’s mental health concerns to a manager not trained to handle such information, and raises confidentiality issues. Further, should an officer be suffering stress and anxiety, disclosing that information and having an awkward conversation with an Area Manager is likely to be the last thing they want to do.
SJA Response: NO
You will remember the AEAWA proposed a pandemic clause which mirrors the provisions of the WA Government for public sector employees, but only claims 8 shifts of paid leave (which would cover most isolation events) St John declined outright this AEAWA claim, despite a greater level (20 days) of leave being offered to all WA public sector employees. St . John believe the costs of such a claim ‘could be huge’ should community transmission occur. The AEAWA argued that we have had members with minor ailments and allergies who have been sent home by management, which would not have prevented them working in previous years, and members who have been determined they must isolate by SJA due to travel, in contradiction to official advice, who have had their leave balances been decimated as a direct result. The AEAWA remain open to developing a clause suitable to both parties, but at this stage SJA are not willing to entertain any cover for pandemic related leave.
SJA to respond to – Increase to Special leave Accrual Claims
SJA Response: Agreed (!)
The AEAWA successfully argued that it makes business sense to allow greater flexibility in special leave as this will mean SJA would be able to reduce unplanned absence and plan appropriate coverage for Special Leave absence. St. John have agreed to allow officers to accrue special leave up to positive 96 hours. The ability to go negative 48 hours will remain, however, St John intend to limit the amount of special leave which can be booked off in any one instance to 96 hours.
SJA to respond to – Portability across Country and Metro Claims
St. John have agreed to provide a draft revised clause which would improve special leave portability between metro and country.
SJA to respond to – Special Leave Percentage Increase Claims
SJA Response: NO
The AEAWA sought to increase the number of special leave spots available from 6% to 8% SJA feels that, being a percentage figure the number of spots grows in conjunction with the established vehicles. However, as was highlighted that the number of ‘establishment vehicles’ haven’t grown in recent years, despite increases in staff number, as establishment does not include demand support vehicles, short shift etc. St. John declined on the basis that most special leave spots are generally always full on weekends. It was
countered that most ‘unplanned leave’ (book-offs) also occur on weekends and so therefore the lack of special leave spots could well be correlated to unplanned leave. Perhaps by increasing special leave spots available, there would be a reduction in unplanned leave and book offs on weekends. The AEAWA contend that increasing special leave spots may well see a reduction in unplanned leave, and enable SJA to adequately plan and fill those vacancies in advance, rather than trying to cover weekend shifts with ICBs.
SAO Exam Leave Claims
SJA Response: NO
SJA feel that the organisation already sufficiently makes arrangements to enable SAO’s to attend exams and not be unfairly disadvantaged. We disagree. The AEAWA feel that this is not the case and outlined that we have represented several officers recently who have had to sit exams after a night shift, and that the organisation should feel obligated to better facilitate fair and equitable time off for these students, given that passing these exams are a pre-requisite to progression and employment within SJA. If SJA does have
mechanisms, they are not well known and not fairly applied, therefore we would like guarantees embedded in the EBA.
SJA Update regarding Job Share
St. John confirmed that the list is being updated and will be communicated to all staff via email in the coming weeks.
Job Share in Country
St John have committed to developing a process and system to allow job share in country, we await further details before we can comment.
SJA have responded to the AEAWA Meal Break claim by indicating a willingness to work through how a system involving meal breaks *might* work. Whilst this was encouraging (and somewhat surprising given the raft of ‘NO’ responses so far from SJA), we should be aware that this stated willingness to consider meal breaks SJA was given in the same sentence as ‘seeing a number of difficulties and potential barriers’. As mentioned before, the AEAWA see the ability to enjoy an meal break as a hallmark of a modern, progressive ambulance service (we are the only ambulance service without meal breaks), but more importantly we feel that a service needs to be adequately resourced in order to schedule meal breaks while maintaining capacity. We feel that meal breaks are therefore required to force St John to resource the service sufficiently. Details will be discussed in future meetings including what happens if a meal break is missed, and whether this becomes a financial penalty etc. We will be working with our interstate independent union colleagues to gain their experiences on the meal break issues.
Commencement of Shift Equipment check
SJA state that they are open to working through how this *might* work, but are still considering the proposals of the AEAWA. Further discussion will take place at future meetings.
SJA Response: still working through the claims, though they also stressed the ‘nature of the ambulance business’ meaning shift extensions are somewhat inevitable. SJA argue that if shift extensions were to be removed completely ‘they wouldn’t be able to give anyone a job in the last 1.5 hours of their shift’. The AEAWA completely acknowledge the unpredictable nature of ambulance work, but there are a number of mechanisms we believe could be in place that would balance an employee’s right to (occasionally) finish
on time and spend time with loved ones, while still maintaining an emergency response. In a well resourced service these two objectives should not be mutually exclusive.
The next meeting is scheduled for 9th June 2021. St. John indicated we will likely go to weekly meetings after the 9th June.
The committee would like to again advise our members that this negotiation promises to be one of the toughest in memory, and despite apparent progress on some issues today, there remain a number of conditions very much under threat (CAMC and the average industry wage in WA, ad-hoc movement across shift colours, permanency etc). Once removed, these conditions will generally never return and so we must stand together to protect what has been hard fought and won by our colleagues in previous years.
We thank our members for their continued support.
Today we held the 7th scheduled EBA meeting. Content and discussion was fairly limited today, being much less wide ranging than previous meetings. It would be fair to say that overall this was quite a frustrating meeting, with no significant movement on behalf of St John, or your negotiation Team.
Below follows a summary of the topics covered today:
Spare Officers to receive Allowance/Extra Payment (AEAWA)
The AEAWA proposed a figure of $20 per shift for officers who are rostered spare. We feel that this is a very reasonable figure for the inconvenience of being made a spare officer, and will hopefully go some way to deter SJA from arbitrarily making officers spare, especially when vacancies exist on the roster. St John will ‘cost’ this proposal, and report back.
St. John have agreed to update and maintain a ‘Job Share List’ (you may not have even seen this list) which currently sits under Rosters on the intranet and lists employees who are looking for job share partners. This list will now be updated and established under People and Culture section of Connect. And email will go out to everyone including Country ambulance officers, outlining the process. This concession does not satisfy the reform of the Job Share clause we have claimed, and which we will continue to pursue.
Travel Allowance (St John)
St. John propose to remove the travel allowances for casual staff. We anticipate that this ‘minor change’, along with other wording changes to the ‘casual clause’, are being suggested in preparation for an expansion of the casual paramedic workforce, with St John seeking to utilise the growing number of Paramedicine graduates who are seeking employment. The AEAWA are opposed to the expansion of casual workers within the paramedic profession as it reduces the job security and income security in our industry, and fragments our bargaining power. We are committed to the expansion of a PERMANENT workforce, rather than enabling mechanisms for St John to match ‘supply and demand’ with the bare minimum of staff. The AEAWA have taken proposal ‘on notice’ until a future date.
Special Operations On-Call Proposal (St John)
Discussion centred on the SJA proposed ‘on call’ roster for Special Operations Paramedics (PSO). Despite SJA having provided a draft roster for consultation, we remain unsure how exactly St John anticipate this system working. Further, when questioned it appeared that St John have not thought that far ahead. PSOs are not currently a permanent salaried position under the agreement (nor are they a secondment) and so St John need to give consideration as to whether being rostered ‘on-call’ would, for example, preclude opportunity to go on country relief, preclude membership of other specialist groups or secondments (CSP, CCP, AM pool). On-call seems to have ramifications which St John has not yet considered. St. John have committed to develop a case study to demonstrate how they see this on call roster working, and examine the development of a rostered position.
Special Operations Training at Normal Rate (St John)
St. John propose to pay training at normal (single time) for Paramedic Special Operations (PSO’s). This was declined by both negotiation teams. There is absolutely NO appetite to introduce any overtime clause which would be paid at single time, ANYWHERE in the agreement. If St. John wish to train PSO’s an ‘normal rate’ they can roster training during ‘normal’ shifts.
USAR Allowance – Amendments (St John)
St John propose to alter the name under the allowances from ‘USAR allowance’ to Paramedic Special Operations (PSO) allowance. This was agreed, as USAR is now outdated terminology.
Pay Parity with CCP & CSP (AEAWA)
The AEAWA argue that PSO’s complete significant and ongoing training. The group have developed into a highly skilled, highly deployable asset, with inter-agency tasking requiring a high degree of flexibility and adaptability. PSOs are expected to be able to respond and travel nationally and internationally at very short notice. The role is expanding and developing, with deployments becoming more frequent, and the AEAWA feel that PSO’s deserve to be a specific defined rank within the organisation, earning a separate pay schedule commensurate with their skills and training. We continue to try and understand how St John envisage developing the role into something that can offer a guaranteed response, and working towards a solution that provides a 24 hour capability while protecting our PSO members.
On-Road Tutor/Mentoring Allowance (AEAWA)
The AEAWA further outlined the calculation for our proposed On-Road Tutoring/Mentoring allowance. Currently ‘On Road Tutors’ receive $18.07 per shift when rostered with a student. We feel that On Road tutoring deserves at least as much monetary recognition as a college secondments. To arrive at our proposed revised figure for On Road Tutor, the AEAWA took the average increase in salary from banding AP1, AP2, and AP3, to that of CPHC secondment, and averaged these figures. We then calculated the value of this average pay increase that would equate to for each On Road Tutor shift. St. John again disputed our reasoning that On Road Tutoring is equivalent to CPHC secondment. We again argued that On Road Tutor is more demanding and more challenging than that of CPHC trainer. On Road Tutor’s will work with a student for 11-13 hours, continuously monitoring, training, mentoring and assessing. Whereas a CPHC secondment will actively train for perhaps 50% of the time, and this is done in a static, safe environment. On road tutors assume more clinical risk and they generally would incur more stress. St John again tried to infer that AHPRA mentoring requirements place a responsibility on registered practitioners to ‘mentor’. We countered that by stating that the current allowance in our certified agreement is for that of an ‘On Road Tutor’ and NOT a mentor. Our members performing this role are ‘Tutoring’, complete with written formal assessments which are submitted to the CPHC, not simply ‘mentoring’.
Introduction of Change (AEAWA)
In recent years your Executive committee have become increasingly frustrated with the introduction of changes to working conditions and practice through the unilateral development (on behalf of St John), of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Many of these SOPs have significant impact on established practice and conditions, which are not protected under industrial agreements. For instance, St John reworded the ‘Patient Flow and Ramping Guideline’ to legitimise the practice of multi patient care and single officer ramping duties, which we feel is a significant change in work conditions and job description. Often these ‘Policy’s’ are developed by St John without input, and not commonly available to staff until they are rolled out to penalise an employee (for instance the Workers Compensation Policy which precludes an employee who suffers any injury, however minor, from applying for any secondment or relief position for a period of 3 months). Our draft clause proposes to enforce through the certified agreement a genuine consultation and approval process with the employment groups. We also seek the inclusion of current SOPs as indices to the Certified agreement, making them less susceptible to arbitrary change.
Dispute Settling Procedure (AEAWA)
The AEAWA seek a streamlining to the dispute resolution process. St. John have rejected our proposal stating that each step in the process allows each level of management to review a decision. We will continue to pursue this clause.
Additional Mental Health / Leisure Days (AEAWA/UWU)
The AEAWA propose that on road officers should be provided with the same two ‘Leisure Days’ as is provided to St John administrative staff who are covered under the Administration and Support Services Certified Agreement within St John. Our members work in an environment which routinely exposes them to trauma and stress, they miss family events and social engagements, and work fatiguing shift patterns. From our perspective it is hard to see how St John can argue we should not receive the same entitlement.
Costings (St John)
St. John presented a number of ‘costings’ for claims submitted so far. This included figures such as $1,531,013 per annum to fund an additional 2 days leave Mental Health Leave (as above). This would allegedly equate to a 1.27% pay rise, but on the surface it seems an abnormally large figure. We challenged St John as to the calculations and assumptions made in arriving at this figure (for instance, does this include back-filling these absences with OT) but the Acting Finance Director was (?inconveniently) absent and therefore St John we’re unable to elaborate. They will provide additional details at the next meeting. This is a typical strategy of St John to reduce and erode the AEAWA claim for annual pay increase, inflating the figures on a ‘worst case scenario’ basis to orchestrate a smaller pay raise.
Defence Service Leave (AEAWA)
The AEAWA seek to allow 10 days paid Defence Service Leave, for members who are Defence Force Reserves or Australian Defence Force Cadets. By comparison, WAPOL provide 112 PAID hours + 16 top up pay days, DFES provide 20 PAID days, Victoria Ambulance provide 20 days PAID leave. Registered Nurses are provided 76 hours PAID.
St John however currently offer 4 paid shifts leave (just 48 hours). St John assert the costings for this claim equate to $182,262 per annum, and suggest it would reduce any pay rise by 0.15% We implore St John to be a leader in recognising, supporting and VALUING members who volunteer their time and risk their lives in service of our country, rather than quibbling over relatively small amounts of money.
Ambulance Officer Exam Leave (AEAWA/UWU)
This was an agenda item but did not end up being discussed at today’s meeting, we will ensure it is re-entered onto the agenda for next fortnight.
Health and Wellbeing Allowance (AEAWA/UWU)
This was an agenda item but did not end up being discussed at today’s meeting, we will ensure it is re-entered onto the agenda for next fortnight.
The next meeting is scheduled for 26 May 2021. As mentioned previously this EBA promises to be a long (and likely a painful) process.
Please continue to discuss the EBA with your colleagues on road and let us know you thoughts on the issues which are important to you. The current offer from St John leaves your negotiators with absolutely NO desire to agree to any of these enormous changes, which we believe would cause unprecedented damage to our employment conditions, and the industry as a whole.
The negotiation team would like to thank our membership for their continued support, and for their avoidance of the ‘Yammer’ Enterprise Agreement 2021 sub forum. We appreciate you will still have many questions about the offer and claims, so please feel free to contact us at [email protected] and we will raise them at future meetings.
AEAWA Negotiation Team
Your negotiation team met today with senior management for the 6th scheduled EBA meeting. Please forgive the lengthy post below, there was a lot of discussion at today’s meeting, though sadly it was mostly unproductive.
This meeting again contained NO significant discussion of the Clinical Appropriate Model of Care (CAMC), the proposed restructure of our workforce which your negotiation team remain fundamentally opposed. As a reminder, your committee see this ‘CAMC’ as serving to devalue the paramedic profession, lower industry wages and create division and resentment among our members. We also feel it is not our place nor our right to ‘sell’ the conditions of future paramedics, whilst we continue to enjoy ‘grandfathered’ conditions. Should the CAMC be allowed to progress, St John will have NO incentive to retain the role of ‘Ambulance Paramedic’ when they can simply grow the proportion of ‘Qualified Paramedics’ who will perform the same work, on the same shifts, with the same qualification, for $30,000 less per annum roughly
Below is a summary of the topics covered today:
The AEAWA provided a response to an agenda item listed as ‘undertaking’ clause, which you will remember from last fortnight was a thinly veiled attempt to introduce more casual staff into our workforce by changing wording within the ‘Casual’ clause of the EBA to allow anyone with the designation ‘Paramedic’ to become casual, regardless of whether they are a current employee or ‘AP1’. The AEAWA rejected the proposed wording changes that would have allowed this. Having a large proportion of workers who are casual solely benefits St John. They cease to be liable for annual leave and sick leave payments, and can adjust their workforce to meet ‘supply and demand’. Casual employees reduce the bargaining power of our workforce, and it is an unfair arrangement for those Paramedics who simply want stable, permanent employment, a necessity to obtain a
mortgage or rental application.
Job Share – Discussion
Further discussion occurred with St John about enabling access to job share in country location. Despite reaching agreement last fortnight to re-write the Job Share clause, St. John sought further clarification about exactly what the bargaining teams want in relation to amending this clause. Again the AEAWA explained that there is no set mechanism for country officers to enter job share arrangements, and that the rare ad-hoc arrangements which have been successfully established were themselves extremely difficult to establish. There is a general lack of transparency and equity in the current clause, and the AEAWA seek a completely reworded document, which we hope will benefit both Metro and Country officers who wish to enter into Job Share arrangements.
CEP – Plan for this year
St John confirmed that this years CEP will be two days of ‘face to face’ classroom based training (pending any COVID restrictions which might develop). St. John reject the claim for any additional CEP days. St John state that extra time may be provided for training as and when required (eg for Stryker training).
Emergency Roster (St John claim)
St. John wish to introduce a clause that would allow the organisation to change a roster in response to a perceived emergency (not necessarily a declared emergency under law) which they believe may impact on their ability to deliver an ambulance service, the examples they used repeatedly were ‘heat wave’ and ‘storm’. Despite the fact St. John currently struggle to deliver an ambulance service even in the absence of an emergency event, the AEAWA believe that, in the event of an actual emergency within our community or internationally, St John would be inundated with offers of assistance from the workforce who would be more than willing to fly statewide, interstate, or internationally and happily work alternate shift patterns to help out. We feel there is no need to introduce a clause to empower St John to do this, and if it were worded incorrectly it would be open to abuse by St John, e.g a ‘ramping emergency’ requiring officers to be forced to work on days off, or change shifts.
Crews to be allocated time to check vehicle and medication prior to being made operational (AEAWA claim)
The AEAWA highlighted that there is an ever-growing list of items to check on the Daily Equipment & Medication Check, including 27 medications, a safe S8 check, approximately 25 equipment and device checks, Corpuls checks, and duress alarm checks. Some discussion took place regarding outdated notions of ‘embarrassment checks’, and it was put to St John that many items of equipment can cause acute embarrassment and potential patient harm if they are not present or not working (for instance a missing size 2 iGel or inoperative suction could be extremely ‘embarrassing’). St. John have operated on the goodwill of their workforce for many many years, on officers who
routinely arrive 20-30 minutes before each shift to ensure their vehicle is operational and correctly stocked. This time is unpaid, and St John benefit by having their crews able to deliver a high standard of care and being able to respond within minutes of the start of their shift. The negotiation team explained that the goodwill which has enabled this to occur has diminished in recent years, and that modern ambulances, with over 300 separate stocked items, deserve allocated, paid time to be checked.
Allocated, Paid Meal break during shift (AEAWA)
The AEAWA highlighted that WA is one of the last states in Australia NOT to provide its staff with paid breaks and allocated rest breaks. To illustrate:
The Ambulance and Patient Transport Award, which provides a National framework/guide for standard ambulance conditions provides for meal breaks. The New South Wales State Ambulance Award provides for two paid 30-minute crib breaks. where officers are working a roster of 12 hour or more. The Ambulance Victoria Certified Agreement provides for 2 x 30 minutes PAID meal breaks for shifts of more than 10 and up to 14 hours. Ambulance Victoria also provide two ten-minute rest breaks each day, counted as time worked (ie paid). The South Australian Ambulance service are entitled to 20 minutes paid breaks. Queensland Ambulance are entitled to two unpaid meal breaks of not less than 30 minutes for shifts in excess of 10 hours in duration. Ambulance Tasmania are entitled to 2 x 10-minute paid breaks. Northern Territory receive 1 x 30 minute meal break
The negotiation team believe St John WA, a company which describes itself as a ‘leader in ambulance’, take steps at this EBA to catch up with the other jurisdictional ambulance services in all other states and territories, and provide paid meal breaks. A by-product of this claim for paid meal breaks, arguably as important, is that for an ambulance
service to have sufficient ambulance resources to schedule crews onto meal breaks, they will ALSO need to maintain a minimum number of crews and have sufficient standby capacity to make this happen. It is intended that a missed or broken meal break would attract a financial penalty.
Remove Default Roster Assignment (2,2,4) (St John claim)
St. John wish to remove the default assignment to the 224 shift pattern. St. John wish to have no assignment to a particular shift pattern or colour. St. John wish to put more people onto day shift, straight from Induction or Direct Entry onto day ambulance, to align with demand 1000-2200, which in turn will mean less crews on night shift. St. John presented some ‘reasoning’ behind this claim. They allege that such a change is necessary due to ‘increasing demand’ for service. St. John repeatedly state they ‘want to match
supple and demand’. St. John showed Business Intelligence department data which shows where spikes and troughs occur throughout the day. The AEAWA acknowledged that peaks and troughs indeed occur throughout the day. We also acknowledge that there are often ‘spikes’ in demand. St. John were however reminded that we are an emergency service, not just a business. And with an emergency service, supply should exceed demand. Maintaining a sufficient standby capacity will negate the problems with ‘spikes’
in demand. The Acting Finance Director stated that the Health Department no longer support a 50% standby capacity, they are looking at perhaps 36% standby capacity adjusted to account for 40% for ramping. The AEAWA will be writing to WA Health to confirm this position regarding standby capacity.
The AEAWA reject this proposal outright, seeing this as an attack on certainty of shift pattern and results in a purely advantageous arrangement for St John, and a further erosion on the 224 shift pattern. As with other St John claims below, which seek increase ‘flexibility, agility and responsiveness’ we feel the solution to current pressures is to extract yet more work from a workforce already at maximum productivity, by eroding conditions hard fought and won.
Include ability to move permanent shift for all classifications (St John claim)
St. John propose to have the ability to move people across shift patterns and colours without prior agreement from Officer. They claim this will be required to support the ‘Clinical Appropriate Model of Care’ mix between ‘Qualified Paramedics’ ‘Intern Paramedics’ and ‘Ambulance Paramedics’, and also ‘balance’ staffing numbers. St. John allege they often have trouble filling demand vehicles (4X4) with officers on a voluntary basis, and so would also like the ability to force people onto different shift patterns and colour.
The AEAWA expressed disbelief that their would be any difficulty in filling day ambulances, and certainly, if they made these ‘demand ambulances’ permanent positions St John would be knocked down in the rush to fill these vehicles.
The AEAWA clearly and unequivocally reject this proposed ability to move people across shift colours and patterns. The ability to know what shift you will be working in 6, 9 or 27 months is essential for planning and work / life balance. The AEAWA suggested that St John consider offering an incentive for staff to move shifts temporarily or permanently rather than encouraging via certified agreement the arbitrary movement of officers, which would create a workplace where NO certainly of working days
would exist beyond next 8 weeks, no ability to plan for birthdays, school events or holidays with any certainty.
Overtime crews to be released at first opportunity (AEAWA)
This proposal is similar to the Reasonable Overtime clause the AEAWA seek to introduce. Ramped crews who have finished their shift have FINISHED their shift. They are entitled to go home should they want to, and so St John need to organise for them to be relieved at the first available opportunity. We feel this is fairly straightforward and not an unreasonable expectation.
Expansion of 224 Crews (AEAWA)
The AEAWA propose to establish a ratio of 1 x 224 to 1.5 x 4X4. This proposal will support and strengthen the core 224 roster, hopefully making 224 sustainable. Night shift coverage has been eroded year after year as St John seek to ‘maximise KPIs’ by putting on more and more day vehicles on, while neglecting nights. It is worth noting that DFES do not complain about the 224 roster because they are adequately resourced. DFES recognise that emergencies can occur 24/7, and so they maintain cover at mostly equal levels day and night. St John will of course fight this proposal, but we remain in discussions.
Spare Officers to receive Allowance/Extra Payment (AEAWA)
The AEAWA propose the introduction of an allowance for each shift worked by an officer who is rostered spare. This is intended to compensate them for the inconvenience of working in different locations each shift, with different partners, and at short notice. It also serves as a ‘disincentive’ to the organisation to make officers spare when vacancies exist on the roster.
Spare Officers to be rostered to home station (AEAWA)
The AEAWA wish to see spare officers rostered to the Home Depot (the depot closest to their home address). The AEAWA frequently receive complaints from members who are driving past several depots to their ‘rostered spare’ depot, only to be sent back to a depot they drove past earlier. This proposal would see an officer rostered spare to their Home Depot, where they can then be tasked to an alternate place of work if necessary.
Allocated Positions Discussion
No new Allocated Positions (St John)
St John propose NOT to create any new allocated positions as they bring new vehicles online. They propose that currently the existing allocated positions will remain unaffected.
‘Flexibility and agility’ is the claimed motivation, and St. John want complete rostering flexibility to ‘meet the needs of the community’ by matching demand to supply.
St. John claim that creating any future AP/AP positions on a new vehicle (eg CEN24) would be problematic ‘when the CAMC model rolls out.’. St. John want to reassure current employees that currently designated allocated positions would still be filled when vacancies arise. But any new positions created would NEVER be filled permanently.
The AEAWA again reject this attack on conditions. The committee frequently hear that one of the most stressful components of our workplace is rostering, and that roster change period causes significant angst and frustration. Having a permanent depot with a permanent partner provides stability, consistency, and support, and we will not support changes which would reduce the number of members who can enjoy this condition. We also feel permanency helps bolster morale, reducing patient led complaints and staff book-offs.
27/47 Clause (St John and AEAWA)
St John seek to remove the clause whereby they are required to consider making the 27 and 47 vehicles permanent, where they have been in place for 12 months. The AEAWA reject this, highlighting the fact that St. John ALREADY fail to comply with the existing clause, and that there have been many 27 and 47 vehicles which have consistently
been rostered for several years, which still have not been made permanent. The AEAWA will not entertain the weakening of this already weak clause, and in fact seek to strengthen and enforce it. The AEAWA counter the St John claim by insisting St John comply with the existing obligations under the clause.
Compliance with Station Manager Clause (AEAWA)
The AEAWA argue it has been over 6 years since St John last recruited any SM’s. St. John formally commit to recruiting and filling the vacant SM positions to provide career
opportunities for staff.
Rostered Away from Allocated Position, Shift or Colour (St John)
St. John wish to change the current clause which allows them to roster officers away from their permanent depot for 16 weeks, to allowing them to be rostered away from BOTH permanent depot AND permanent SHIFT for 16 weeks! It was argued by your committee that those officers on Blue shift with a planned Christmas off, may suddenly find themselves moved to Green shift for the Christmas roster. Again, this was rejected.
Remove Requirement to fill or create new Allocated Positions (St John)
St. John, as in several other clauses above, seek to remove the requirement for permanency. Again, this was a clearly and unequivocally rejected by both bargaining groups.
Consultative Committee (AEAWA)
The AEAWA seek to introduce an external arbiter from the Fair Work Commission to participate in the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC). The reason behind this is that the JCC meetings have many, many items on each agenda which are raised repeatedly but which are never resolved by St John. At a previous Fair Work Commission attendance, the offer was made for a commissioner to attend and ‘adjudicate’ to ensure consultation truly occurred and that promised outcomes are completed. St. John of course rejected this claim, but will take it on notice and consider the implications.
Introduction of Change (AEAWA)
The AEAWA committee provided a draft clause for consideration which we hope will restrict the ability of St John to introduce new Policy, new SOPs, and changes to Policy without consultation.
Dispute Settling Procedure (AEAWA)
The AEAWA seek to expedite the process of dispute resolution, which is currently long winded, time consuming and encourages unnecessary delay. St. John agree the process is long winded and will examine ways to streamline.
Night Shift Payment (AEAWA)
The AEAWA seek to introduce a night shift payment where the shift falls on either a Friday night ($100) or Saturday night of ($200). To encourage completion of the full set of 4 shifts, the payments would only occur where people complete the whole set.
The next meeting is on the 12th May 2021. Please be aware that the all parties have only just finished outlining their respective claims
(we still need to explore Special Ops claims), so this negotiation is very likely to be a very drawn out process, especially as it includes ‘unprecedented’ proposed restructuring of our workforce, and significant attacks on our conditions. It is not unusual for negotiations to go on for several years (NT ambulance has been in negotiations since 2018), and so it is important for all of us to remain focussed on the long term, and to not be coerced into agreeing to changes that would cause irrevocable damage to conditions. Once conditions are lost they rarely, if ever return. Please talk with your colleagues and ensure they know the stakes at the table, and how damaging these proposals in the CAMC
would be to our profession. If they are not with either Association or Union, please encourage them to sign up with someone.
AEAWA Negotiation Team
Your negotiation team met today with senior management for the 5th scheduled EBA meeting.
This meeting continued the process whereby each party outlines their respective claims and draft clauses, pending more detailed discussions later. With apologies given from Paul Bailey there was no discussion regarding the Clinical Appropriate Model of Care (CAMC). St. John proposed to break off a subcommittee to discuss the CACM but this was firmly rejected by the bargaining groups, who both agreed that any discussion regarding this proposed new model be conducted openly around the bargaining table, so that our membership can be regularly updated as discussions progress. Much of today was spent outlining and justifying claims relating to management secondments, pool transparency, job share mechanism for country locations, establishment vehicles, and reasonable overtime.
Single Officer Duties
An update was offered by Ambulance Director Deon Brink in response to the clause proposed last fortnight by the AEAWA seeking to limit the duties that can be performed by a single officer. It was agreed by management that some recent duties tasked to single officers have been unsafe and unacceptable, and that officers can REFUSE to perform duties which contravene those outlined in the Patient Flow and Ramping Policy, such as being dispatched as a single officer to perform ramping duties at 2am, or attending a call on your own.
Health & Wellbeing Policy
SJA have agreed to review the Health & Wellbeing Policy in terms of monetary allowance and to consider expanding the services for which it can be used.
Secondments appointment period & Pools
SJA propose to increase secondment periods ‘up to 4 years’ with possible extension of up to a maximum of 5 years. It must be noted here that St. John have consistently
evaded the existing maximum periods within the current clause (secondment periods of 2 years with possible extension up 3 years) by moving employees on one secondment
*temporarily* to another secondment, and then back to their original secondment, thereby ‘starting the clock’ again. Indeed, we have challenged this at the Fair Work Commission, and so while the overall secondment terms remain open for discussion, the AEAWA will not agree to a clause that fails to address the ability for this SJA evasion of the secondment period limits, whatever they are determined to be.
In relation to ‘pools’, the AEAWA recognise and appreciate that ‘acting’ positions created through a ‘pool system’ allow officers to try out various roles within the business. However the pool system also enables St John to avoid the commitment of appointing people permanently to a position. Pools are rapidly becoming the ‘normal’ way for St John to manage the business, much like the growth in casual employees elsewhere, these pools are essentially creating ‘casual area manager’ positions. Through the pool system, St John can delay or avoid placing people into permanent positions, and therefore avoid the associated burdens and responsibilities that come with having staff in permanent roles. This is similar to how SJA prefer to operate ‘spare officers’ in metro, despite multiple vacancies existing on a vehicle for an entire roster. The AEAWA feel this also resembles the growing casual employee movement within Patient Transport, with the biggest ‘winner’ of these arrangements generally being St John. It is worth remembering that no permanent Area Manager positions have been filled for well over 5 years (this reluctance precedes the South West Pilot) and there remains little incentive for them to do so.
In summary, St. John are the main beneficiaries of larger and larger pools, having access to staff at their convenience, with no obligation to progress those officers or develop their skills, no obligation to employ those officers permanently once they have served their usefulness, and no restriction on periods of time which officers can remain in pools.
Worse still, membership of some pools seem to be open ended, while others supposedly have time limits which are very inconsistently enforced, and ‘expressions of interest’ for
entry to a pool is sporadic and very infrequent. The AEAWA understand the potential benefits of a small pool system, but feel that the current application of the system needs
significant work to be fair, transparent and to offer more equitable benefits to the employee and not just the employer. Current pool arrangements offer no certainty for those officers who want to advance their career. Current pools do not offer progression.
The AEAWA want consistency around pool operation, set periods, all pool positions to be advertised, set structure, and set processes, opting in and out of pools. Current pool arrangements leave officers unprotected by the certified agreement.
Job share in Country
The AEAWA do not understand the difficulty in allowing job share in country positions. The very few job share arrangements that have been approved were agonisingly difficult
to establish and with a service our size it should they should be relatively straightforward. The AEAWA feel that the job share clause within the EBA needs to completely revised
and reworded for both metro and country to enable simplicity of application and clarity of operation. SJA agreed to create an agenda item for the next meeting to reformulate a job share clause which will hopefully make entering into job share agreements much simpler and more achievable.
Working with volunteers
The AEAWA seek adequate recognition and increased allowances for operational staff working as a mentor in both metro locations and when working with volunteers in country
locations, which is very similar to formal mentoring. SJA have queried the dollar figure placed on this claim, and question the equivalency to CPHC training salary increments,. SJA do not feel that working with volunteers or mentoring metro SAO’s is necessarily the same as the duties undertaken by CPHC trainers. The AEAWA highlight that in many ways the mentoring process, either in country or volunteer, is ‘at the sharp end’ of practice when compared to the static, controlled environment of the CPHC training
rooms, and should attract a similar or greater monetary reward to recognise the greater clinical stress, risk and accountability associated with operational ‘real-life’ training on
Country relief employee expense allowance
St John propose to change the ‘weekly rate’ of employee expense relief allowances to a ‘daily rate’. The AEAWA countered this proposal, highlighting the current system works
well and that the proposed wording would simply enable St John to act as ‘tax police’ and potentially allow them to report staff who might be claiming living away from home
expenses when staying back in Perth during days off. The AEAWA argued that it is up to the employee how they spend their days off, and it is the employee on relief who
completes a Statutory Declaration advising that they are maintaining a home whilst working away, and that no tax liability should fall upon St John with the current wording
and system. In addition to country relief, the AEAWA sought clarification on the eligibility process for country relief, the application process and the order in which relief positions are advertised for AP, SM, and CP.
St John are seeking to broaden the casual clause from ’employees holding the title AP1′ to anyone holding the title of ‘Paramedic’. We feel that this proposed ‘minor change’
which St John sought to sneak into the agreement would have significant repercussions to the composition of our future workforce. The current wording provides for ‘Casuals’ to
have completed the AP progression programme and attained AP1. The proposed wording would mean SJA could directly employ any paramedics as casuals. We just have to look
at the PTO/Ambulance Transport Officer workforce, where casuals make up the bulk of the numbers, to see that this could mean an increasingly fragmented and casual laden workforce, with a hugely disrupted bargaining ability.
St. John are proposing to include additional ‘non-operational’ material into paramedic CEP, which currently allocates a maximum of 20% to ‘non-clinical’ matters. The AEAWA
strongly reject and will continue to strongly reject any move by SJA to reduce the amount of clinical content in CEP.
Managers on Road
The current ‘Managers on Road’ clause states that an employee may only work with a manager on road on a ‘voluntary’ basis. St. John wish to remove the voluntary component
which would mean our members could arrive for work and be required to work with (for instance) an AM, MMO, Operations Manager, Clinical Manager, Country Manage, or a
Director who happens to hold registration. St John claim that it is important for managers who are also paramedics to maintain clinical contact as part of their registration
obligations, and feel this will be more necessary as the Depot AM’s will be more office based. The AEAWA have strongly rejected this proposed amendment, and suggest that if
managers want clinical contact they can take over patient care of several ramped crews in hospitals as ‘ramping paramedics’, or to form a crew with another manager to cover
shift change over and complete the 1730 P2 transfers.
The AEAWA attempted to outline a plan to mandate a ratio of 224 vehicles to Day vehicles, with a view to support the 224 roster and eventually manage fatigue on night
shifts. The current strategy of St John in dealing with failing response time targets is to put on more and more non-permanent 4X4 demand vehicles on and completely neglect night shift coverage. The AEAWA point out that St John have not created any new 224 vehicles in many years, and seemingly have no intention to do so. Our proposed clause
would ‘fix’ the ratio at 1 x 224 to 1.5 x 4X4 and mean the creation of significant number of new 224 vehicles to reach this ratio.
The AEAWA outlined a proposed clause which would begin to define reasonable overtime, based on previous Fair Work recommendations following a test case brought by
ACTU. This will hopefully give officers the ability to safely refuse to perform shift extension overtime under certain conditions. The AEAWA feel that any P3/P4 call which
is liable to result in a shift extension is ‘unreasonable’, and feel that any ramping overtime for patients triaged as P3/P4 is further ‘unreasonable’. Your negotiation team summed
this clause up by directly asking the St John assembled representatives, ‘What do you feel is reasonable overtime?’ Of course they were unable to answer. Further discussion
will take place once St John have considered the draft clause.
The next meeting is scheduled for the 28th April. Please feel free to contact a delegate with any questions
Your negotiation team met today with senior management for the 4th scheduled EBA meeting.
This was planned short meeting due to the unavailability of several managers in the afternoon, and focussed on CCP and Special Ops claims, with some time spent outlining
and justifying claims for the Deferred Salary Scheme, Ambulance Officer Exam Leave, Single Crew Activity Limitation, Health and Wellbeing Allowance, Workers Compensation
and Career Progression. The meeting opened with SJA presenting some evidence regarding the usefulness of CCP on road, in relation to the Clinical Appropriate Model of
Care (CAMC). SJA conceded that they believe the ideal on-road implementation of this model would be a CCP in a car with a Doctor on board. SJA believe there are around ‘3 patients per day’ who may benefit from CCP on road. SJA presented a 2019 research paper by Ben Beck* which indicated up to 20% of trauma deaths are potentially preventable, by bringing CCP skills to the patient (advanced airway, blood products, thoracostomy, point of care ultrasound), *B. Beck et al., Potentially preventable trauma deaths: A retrospective review, Injury (2019).
In regards to the Ben Beck’s 2019 paper, it is worth noting that out of 2752 pre-hospital or early in-hospital traumatic cardiac arrests (over a 7 year period between 2008-2014) the study identified 23 ‘potentially preventable or preventable’ traumatic deaths. Of these 23 cases, 8 were identified as having areas for improvement in the response system, including 4 that had long response times and 4 that had potential issues related to dispatch or recognition of the emergency. There was also 5 cases that had prolonged on scene times. SJA also outlined a 2019 report by Dr Chris Armstrong (specifically undertaken to look at implementing critical care interventions on road here in WA) of 2500 medical and trauma patients where up to 571 could have benefited from advanced CCP skill set. In regards to the report by Dr Chris Armstrong, the document presented seems extremely light on actual data and methodology. It is unclear how Dr Armstrong arrived at this these figures, and they appear to be purely a case sheet data extrapolation. It’s ‘summary of recommendations’ suggested it would be viable to deploy most skills to the existing CSP model. For instance, the most frequently identified/indicated intervention unavailable to Ambulance Paramedics in this report was Non-Invasive ventilation (1 patient per day was identified) for Acute Pulmonary Oedema.
To be clear, the AEAWA are NOT opposed to Critical Care on road, but the study cited above by Beck et al, also highlights the importance of having sufficient ambulance
resources to enable a timely ambulance response, and does not reflect the latest traumatic cardiac arrest guidelines in place in WA, which emphasise short scene times. The proposed CAMC model does nothing to address the shortage of resources, does nothing to address ramping and the inappropriate prioritisation by ProQA, and in fact
proposes to de-skill the general Ambulance Paramedic and focus skills on a small cohort of on road CCP + Doctor model.
It is worth noting here, that St John seem entirely concerned with ‘up to 3’ trauma patients per day, and entirely unconcerned with the multitude of patients waiting for ambulances, often with serious complex medical conditions, who need an ambulance dispatched to them urgently. The Acute Pulmonary Oedema patient doesn’t necessitate
a CCP, they need a timely paramedic response with GTN, oxygen, and ideally CPAP as trialled, possibly a loop diuretic. We suggest that the emphasis on CCP is misplaced in
the context of the current ambulance service crisis, which all on road staff know is at breaking point, and highlights how out of touch our managers are.
Other discussion topics were:
In regards to CCP on road, discussions occurred as to whether it would be mandatory to have worked as an on road CCP prior to being eligible to be a Helicopter CCP. SJA were
unsure and would not commit to answer. It is SJA’s position that CCP’s would lose their allocated position in exchange for a permanent CCP position. SJA feel the ideal number of CCPs on road would be 3, but the number ultimately ‘comes down to affordability’. There are currently 14 CCP’s and all of them would be guaranteed a permanent position
even in the event SJA lose the helicopter contract. SJA propose to increase CCP base hourly rate by 4.7% to account for using CCP skills being used on road.
As SJA indicated clearly last week, the proposed CACM will see a reduction in skills of Ambulance Paramedics. This will have mean the majority of patients receive a lower
standard of clinical care, and have damaging knock on effects when Metro Paramedics work on country relief, where they will bring a lesser skill set, without a CCP as backup.
In regards to Special Operations Paramedics, SJA wish to implement a on-call allowance, and reduce overtime incurred for training purposes to ‘SINGLE TIME’. The AEAWA will not support any clause which seeks to introduce single time rates for hours worked about normal hours, and see this as a mechanism to set a precedent to roll out
single time overtime to other areas of the business. The AEAWA would also like to see sufficient expansion of numbers of Special Ops Paramedics, in preference to
implementing an on-call system/allowance, as members should be able to enjoy their downtime wherever possible.
The AEAWA want to see recognition for the skills and experience within Special Ops and want an actual role developed for Special Ops, with its own classification and Payscales,
which will see an actual pay rate allocated to the role, rather than officers receiving the normal rate only when they are Special Ops Paramedics. Other topics covered included:
Deferred Salary Scheme
Discussions took place with the AEAWA outlining the reasoning behind this claim, which is currently available to WAPOL and Ambulance Victoria. This scheme is cost neutral for St John and will be a good benefit to encourage staff retention.
Exam Leave for SAO’s
The AEAWA argued that it is patently unfair and unjust that SAO’s are not allocated time to sit exams required for the progression within the organisation, often being required to sit an exam following night shift. St John will examine the issue and report back.
Single Officer Activity
The AEAWA feel strongly that the EBA needs to have a clause limiting the duties to which a single officer can be tasked. As you are all well aware, there has been a recent tendency for St John to attempt to dispatch single officers responders in ambulance vehicles to attend jobs. The AEAWA feel this is unsafe instruction as it is a clear deviation from the baseline role for which we are trained, that of being part of an ambulance ‘crew’, in addition to putting undue pressure and risk upon an officer, where clearly the prevailing situation would indicate you have no opportunity for a backup. In addition, there has been recent attempts by St John to legitimise the practice of single officer ramping duties by altering the ‘SOP Patient Flow and Ramping Guideline’. Again, this is a high risk environment as repeatedly stated by CG, and exposes our members to additional clinical responsibility and risk, as well as increasing the risk to our patients who cannot by monitored as closely by a single officer. There is also the added risks whenever the single officer needs to undertake a break / food / cleaning / toilet.
Career Progression – Recruitment Process
The AEAWA argued strongly that the current ‘merit based’ recruitment process is in fact entirely based upon the applicants personality, ‘interview performance’, and with who SJA ultimately want to put in a role…with absolutely no weighting given to an applicants past experience, aptitude, resume, or courses or education they may have completed. We will continue to advocate for a recruitment and career progression clause to ensure fairness and transparency in the process.
Please feel free to contact a delegate with any questions.
Your negotiation team met with management today to conduct the 3rd Paramedic EBA bargaining session.
Much of this meeting was spent in discussions with St John regarding the proposed Clinical Appropriate Model of Care (CAMC).
The AEAWA was invited to provide feedback, which consisted of the following points:
generally there is very little appetite for the CAMC model from our membership the CAMC model is felt to be absolutely minimal in clinical impact, and wholly financial in motivation the model does nothing to address ramping, poor response times, night shift workload, inappropriate P2 hospital transfers, and increasing level of LOW ACUITY workload the CAMC model puts downward pressure on the average front-line ambulance paramedic wage the CAMC model will see a split in the makeup of front line ambulance crews, with 50% Qualified Paramedic or Intern, and 50% ambulance paramedic. This will see a disparity in conditions, create division and fuel resentment while providing a very limited increase in higher tier CCP positions, this model does nothing to address the bulk of our lower acuity workload
The AEAWA Negotiation Team have rejected outright the CAMC model in it’s current form. We have advised St John that we will only consider a plan which addresses the bulk of low acuity work, inappropriate P2 transfers, ramping, night shift P3/P4 call volume and which frees up front-line ambulances for emergency work. The AEAWA feel there is currently a large void between the skillset delivered to the community between ambulance paramedic and ambulance transport, where there exists an opportunity achieve true PROGRESS in delivering CLINICALLY APPROPRIATE CARE. St John have committed to consider the feedback and respond in due course.
Other points noted in today’s discussion were:
St John indicated that the role of of CCP’s on road would see a reduction in AP skills, most likely in terms of airway management, certain IV skills
St John also indicated that they do not want more vehicles at 3am, but they want more vehicles at peak demand times such as 1100-2300.
St. John were unable to provide any concrete definition of ‘Establishment’
St. John were unable to indicate how many ‘Interns’ they expect to take on, over and above the number of Interns they need to employ, but estimated between 25-50%
St. John were unable to provide detail of what performance issues would prevent progression to a full time job.
St. John were unable to provide a time limit for how long an unsuccessful Intern could be outside of the industry before being ineligible to apply for future QP vacancies
The remainder of this meeting saw St John working through the combined Log of Claims to explore the reasons behind, and motivations for the proposed clauses, including:
Annual Leave flexibility (smaller blocks)
Discussions centred around the need for the organisation to provide improved options and flexibility in taking of annual leave, including the possibility of taking annual leave in 1 week blocks, or even 1 day annual leave. It was argued by your representatives that reports from both the Independent Oversight Panel, the Chief Psychiatrist Review, and the Phoenix report highlighted inflexibility in leave allocation contributed to workplace stressors. St John argued that breaking leave into 1 week blocks would affect the ‘rolled up’ nature of salary, which assumes an averaged hours worked over 8 weeks. Further discussion floated the possibility of the conversion of 8 weeks annual leave to an annual leave hours figure, which would simplify the taking of smaller leave blocks. St. John will investigate.
Annual Leave at half pay
Again discussion here focused on the ability of our members to take their annual leave at half pay, thus extending a break from duties while maintaining an income. It was noted that this would be similar to taking 8 weeks on full pay and a further 8 weeks on leave without pay. This is correct but a benefit of the proposed clause is that employees would be entitled under an agreement to activate such a benefit, and not be subject to the discretionary nature of leave without pay applications. It was highlighted to St John that we estimate that only a small proportion of employees would seek to utilise this scheme.
Addition of 2 x Mental Health Days
It was highlighted to St John that it is patently unfair that employees who fall under the Administration and Support Services Enterprise Agreement get 2 leisure days annually on top of their 10 days sick leave, while front line emergency workers who can be exposed to trauma on a regular basis receive just the minimum National Employment Standard personal leave allocation of 10 days. St. John to consider and respond.
The AEAWA have asked for 8 shifts of pandemic leave which would cover a 14 day isolation/quarantine period required should they be forced to isolate for a specific set of reasons. This would apply for any future WHO declared pandemic. It was highlighted that Public Sector employees have been granted 20 days coronavirus leave and that ambulance service is traditionally a function covered by the Public Sector in most states. A clause will be supplied to St John for consideration.
Your negotiators argued for an increase in special leave slots available from 6% of the shift to 8% of shift. It was also argued that officers should be able to accrue up to 96 hours positive balance to better manage their fatigue and personal commitments outside of work. It was highlighted to St. John that this was a cost neutral benefit as employees had already accumulated these hours, and therefore St John would not incur any significant costs in covering the special leave shift. Further the AEAWA feel it would better allow St John to plan for absences, by increasing the ability to utilise planned special leave, and therefore reduce unplanned sick leave, which is of course more difficult to cover at short notice.
Special Leave Portability
The AEAWA argued that it is unfair that an officer moving between country and metro is unable to move special leave between the two services. Discussion took place around the ability of smaller country centres to cover absences where an officer on relief attempts to use special leave, however they could not provide any reason why an officer who accrues special leave while in country should not be permitted to take this leave in metro. St. John to investigate.
Defence Service Leave
The AEAWA have put forward a proposal to increase Defence Service Leave to 10 days to align with federal provisions and most other emergency services, including WAPOL, DFES. St. John have noted the reasons for this proposal and will respond in due course.
We are still very early into the negotiations with many of the claims yet to be discussed. We will endeavour to keep our membership informed, but should you have any questions please contact a delegate. The next meeting is scheduled for 31st March 2021.
AEAWA Negotiation Team
The AEAWA team attended the 2nd EBA negotiation meeting today. This meeting saw the official presentation of the AEAWA Log of Claims, followed by a more detailed exploration of St John’s ‘Clinical Appropriate Model of Care’ (CAMC) where St John sought to rationalise their plan, and explain the perceived benefits of this model. Discussions later focused on the role of CSP and its proposed evolution to ‘Clinical Lead’.
For reference, you will find attached a pdf comparison of the current education model vs proposed internship model, by clicking here.
The rationalisations and perceived benefits of the CAMC model as outlined by St John so far are:
St John argue the internship model is similar to what happens in some other states/territories and in New Zealand. St John claim the internship ‘CAMC’ model allows for
savings in wages which would be used to fund a small number of permanent on-road CCP positions.
St John claims the internship model will allow St John to select only ‘high performing’ officers for permanent positions, as they will be on fixed term 2-year contracts. St John
claim the internship / CAMC model allows for ‘additional career pathways’.
St John claim the CAMC will enable them to adapt to the ‘clinical operating environment we find ourselves in with regards to ambulance’; a situation of an increasing level patient demand of around 5%, ‘travelling further’ to provide the clinical care, while hospitals remain ‘static’(!), an ageing population requiring more complex care and the impact of delayed transfer of care (ramping).
St. John believe this is a unique opportunity to ‘renew the service’ and offer ‘more nuanced care’ to patient groups.
St John feel the CAMC model will provide the community with the care they need, appropriate to their situation, at the time they need for the sickest of patients, routine patients, and lower acuity patients. St John allege time is right to change the ‘one size fits all’ approach to a ‘tiered service’.
The AEAWA negotiation team explored many aspects and potential complications to the CAMC model, including: Just because something is performed interstate does not automatically suggest an improvement in relation to employment conditions and job security. The CAMC model will save on wages as ultimately around 50% of Registered Paramedics employed by St John will be permanently restricted to current AO Grade 2 wages (around $88,000 p/a).
This will cause:
• significant downward pressure on wage growth in our industry.
• lower the average wage of Registered Paramedics in our state.
• make it harder for Ambulance Paramedics to argue for wage increases, when similarly, qualified colleagues earn $25,000 less.
• fracture and create resentment amongst our workforce.
The proposed savings will only fund a small number of additional CCP positions, possibly 2-3 per shift. These would-be permanent positions and once filled will unlikely lead to any realistic career pathway for the majority of officers (how long has it been since the last CCP recruitment?), CSP pathway already exists. While the AEAWA will always support the creation of any new opportunities for our members, additional CCP’s will do nothing to address record low response times, record low standby capacity, record numbers of priority 1s/2s/3s that have often been outstanding for tens and tens of minutes to several hours. Additional CCP’s will not assist with increasing the size of our ‘establishment’ number of vehicles, nor make any significant impact on the care provided to the vast majority of our patients. Additional CCP’s will not assist with night shift workload.
St John we’re unable to identify any new career pathways, other than the ability for Ambulance Paramedics to step down to Qualified paramedics (where they would have the same skill set and obligations but incur up to a $25,000 pay cut). St. John could not identify any way the new Clinical Appropriate Care Model changed the actual clinical care the vast majority of patients would receive, other than a handful of CCP cases attended. St John could not indicate how the CAMC would, for instance, prevent elderly falls patients being left on the floor for hours awaiting an ambulance, while hospital transfers are given priority.
St John could not detail if the cost savings obtained from the CAMC/Intern model would ultimately dwarf the outlay of the proposed CCP positions (…it would!). The AEAWA feel this Clinical Appropriate Model of Care really offers nothing significant in terms of clinical ‘nuanced’ care, and certainly does not help serve the community of WA who deserve an ambulance service which has capacity to respond. Sadly, it appears entirely motivated by finance, disguised as ‘clinical improvement’ and ‘tiering’, but with no effort to manage the bulk of our workload which is in fact low acuity. The AEAWA are not opposed to strategies that improve finances if the savings are reinvested in front line responses and actual crews on road.
The next meeting is scheduled 17th March 2021 and we will endeavour to provide an update of any important developments.
St John is encouraging officers to interact with a dedicated Yammer group, so they can offer reassurances and safeguards to officers about their current conditions. We would ask our members to be mindful that often seemingly innocuous changes to our conditions can have serious unanticipated consequences ‘down the track’. It is important that changes are scrutinised thoroughly, and that a balanced interpretation is presented. We would therefore respectfully encourage our members to
contact us on [email protected] and we will obtain answers on your behalf.
AEAWA Negotiation Team
This meeting was for all three groups (AEAWA, SJA and UWU) to present their Log of Claims for the 2020 EBA Negotiations
2020 EBA Meeting Agenda’s
To view the Agenda for Meeting 5, click here.
To view the Agenda for Meeting 2 click here.
There was no meeting agenda for this meeting. This meeting was for all three parties (AEAWA, SJA and UWU) to present their Log of Claims for the 2020 Ambulance Officers/Paramedics EBA Negotiations.