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Paramedic EBA Update

By 15 April 2024April 28th, 2024No Comments
AP/AO Members,
The EBA negotiation team met briefly with St John this morning, primarily to clarify the intent and proposed operation of some AEAWA claims so that St John can assess and cost.
St John also provided an update on the NW Claims, and presented a new claim in relation to Clause 22 of the Agreement ‘Working With Volunteers’
Below we have outlined the main topics clarified.  This is just a short update today as the proceedings were very light on any actual negotiations.
St John indicated that they plan to hold consultation and discussions with North West Employees and AEAWA representatives to try and understand what a replacement for the NW Allowance should look like. St John are aware that the current allowance is not fit for purpose.
SJA sought to introduce a new claim in relation to Working With Volunteers. SJA wish to amend the 22(c) of the EBA which currently reads: The standard crew at a Country Location, will be as determined by St John and will generally consist of one employee and one clinical volunteer ambulance officer, with the exception of Bunbury Station, where St John retains the ability, with the agreement of the employee, to form a crew with a clinical volunteer ambulance officer.
SJA’s intent is to allow rostering Bunbury employees with volunteers in certain emergency instances such as “emergency road crash response”. The AEAWA today voiced our outright rejection of this proposal. History has repeatedly shown us that should SJA be given an avenue to reduce funding additional paramedics in regional areas, they will exploit at every opportunity. The ability of the organisation to pair Paramedics with volunteers (especially in highly populated urban areas, which should be 100% paramedic staffed), will be a regressive step for the ambulance service, and damage efforts to promote the rollout of more registered paramedics to regional areas. The clause as it stands is sufficient. In the event of a multi casualty event, Paramedics in the Bunbury area would work with volunteer crews to naturally form crew configurations which would maximise patient care.
AEAWA clarified intent of night shift payment for full shift overtime. The intent is to encourage and attract employee to complete night shift overtime. Currently there is minimal financial difference between a 12 hour OT day shift and a 13 hour OT night shift. In terms of raw hours there is no incentive to choose a night shift. The financial difference was further reduced by the move away from 10/14 shifts. This issue was highlighted at the last negotiation but at that time SJA refused to extend the night shift payment to overtime shifts. The organisations increasing dependence on triple time will hopefully mean they can now see the value in having a genuine financial incentive for those working nights.
AEAWA clarified the intention of several proposed claims in relation to Spare Officers, to reduce the overall reliance on spare officers and to increase fairness. SJA were advised that there are too many spares on the roster, most likely this is to compensate for deficiencies in rostering. Spare officers are undertaking excess travel, are being routinely contacted outside of work hours and are then expected to act upon instructions to attend depots a long way from their home.
Spare officers generally experience more fatiguing shift extensions than rostered officers, and are more vulnerable to workplace stress due to not having a regular work partner. Spare Officers have added uncertainty at work, with no consistent work partner who can share in, and monitor wellbeing and exposure to traumatic events.
Clarified that this requires review for all positions which may be eligible. The On Call Allowance is currently calculated (randomly) at 0.5% of a Student Ambulance Officer – Operations base rate, regardless of position being worked (i.e. PSO/CCP/AP). This allowance (currently $5.76 per hour) is insufficient if expecting employees to effectively put their lives on hold while on call.
The AEAWA provided clarification on the intent of this clause. We propose a mechanism to exchange surplus Personal (Sick) Leave balances for Special Leave at a 2:1 ratio, where an employee holds a balances over (initially proposed) 336 hours of Personal (Sick) Leave. This would allow employees to better manage their fatigue, and also give SJA up to 3 months notice of an employees intent not to be at work. A similar system already exists in reverse where employees who have depleted sick leave are able to convert special leave and annual leave into sick leave.
SJA wanted clarification of the intent of this claim. The AEAWA recognise that certain depots and indeed certain call-signs experience a disproportionately high workload and minimal down time. These depots are difficult to fill with long term permanent staff because they are consistently (brutally) busy. The AEAWA wish to open a discussion as to what an allowance or penalty might look like for such depots/call signs, but we will require data from St John which illustrates current workloads by depot/call sign to determine an appropriate penalty. We have suggested this allowance be known as the Pineapple Penalty.
The AEAWA propose that incentives need to be put in place to attract and retain employees to difficult to fill country locations. The current system is not working with a heavy reliance on country relief. For many new locations, the current relief allowances often do not prove attractive.
The next scheduled EBA meeting is 29th April 2024. St John indicated that this is likley to be another short meeting designed at clarifying further clauses. As usual, we will do our best to keep you informed.
AEAWA Negotiation Team