The New South Wales minister for health Ryan Park and treasurer Daniel Mookhey had the privilege of standing in an ambulance station bay to declare that the once sidelined Health Services Union (HSU) had finally won out in a nine-month dispute over pay and professional recognition.
It’s unclear why the Minns government decided to fight, and lose, one of the most cut-and-dry industrial disputes that the relatively new Labor government inherited, but the outcome is self-evident.
The HSU’s headline deal is 29% with a 25% average baseline, over four years. Totes will adjust.
Flanked by women who are routinely required to make split-second life-and-death decisions in critical situations, like horrendous road accidents, internecine suburban violence, domestic violence, simple human frailty and unexpected human trauma, the head of the HSU, Gerard Hayes publicly cried. There should be more of it.
The women he represented seamlessly held their composure as the treasurer and health minister, were, after being brought to book on pay, left trembling in public. Paramedics had threatened not to renew their professional badges. They’d still drive the trucks, but legal cover was gone. Oops.
One of the major asks of critical situation skills training is whether you can make the needed decisions as everything around you descends into chaos and trauma. Those needed decisions revolve around staying alive and preservation of life.
Trauma is omnipresent. It’s the job. It’s also toxic, whatever the responder’s resilience.
With no disrespect to the work police do, ambos and paramedics are usually the ones required to deal with the most difficult situations first, whether it’s a heart attack, a car crash or other violence. Of which there is plenty.
“Paramedics have fought tirelessly and bravely for this professional recognition and salary justice. This historic advance proves that justice is worth fighting for,” HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes, said.
“Our paramedics are highly skilled professionals who exercise fine clinical judgement under incredible stress. Their work saves lives. Finally they will be paid for it.”
“We can not forget that the exodus of paramedics to Queensland happened under the previous government’s 12-year-long wage cap. Such a policy must never return.,” Hayes said.
“The HSU is a robust fighting union. We believe this campaign has been a textbook example of making a case, campaigning hard, exerting pressure and ultimately emerging victorious.”
Examples aside, and pay rise banked, Hayes hat-tipped the new NSW Labor government.
“Despite sometimes having a tense relationship with the current government, we recognise and appreciate the large task it has in rebuilding our health workforce,” Hayes said.
“We acknowledge the efforts of Health Minister Ryan Park, Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis, Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and of course this week’s intervention from Premier Chris Minns.”