NSW paramedics consider quitting amid pay dispute as triple-0 meltdown looms

  • Published December 11, 2023
  • Industries

Daily Telegraph, 11 December 2023

A Christmas nightmare looms, with half of NSW’s paramedics seriously considering walking away from their jobs over a fiery pay dispute, a new survey has found.

The threat of a triple-zero meltdown over the New Year has inched closer, with new crisis talks between the NSW Government and the union representing paramedics to take place on Tuesday in a bid to prevent lives being put at risk over their fiery pay dispute.

It comes as almost half of the paramedics in NSW are “seriously considering” walking away from the NSW Ambulance Service in the coming six months, according to a survey of 1120 members of the Health Services Union (HSU) conducted over the weekend.

The Telegraph can reveal the survey results, amid the bitter pay dispute, showed 23.13 per cent of respondents are planning on leaving the NSW service in the next six months.

Another 46.07 per cent of respondents were seriously considering it.

The figures come after a hearing in the Industrial Relations Commission on Monday afternoon resulted in the NSW Government and the HSU being ordered into arbitration to thrash out an agreement, set to take place on Tuesday.

HSU secretary Gerard Hayes, following Monday’s meeting, said the union was “ready to resolve this dispute once the government is ready to deliver true parity with Queensland”.

“Paramedics are furious at the government for misleading the public with wildly inflated claims of what they are paid. If the government’s figures were true we wouldn’t have hundreds of paramedics leaving NSW for Queensland every year,” he said.

“The truth is NSW paramedics can’t afford to live here. The problem has escalated over the past six months and will only get worse.”

The union maintains the government’s pay offer made on Friday will leave paramedics six to seven per cent lower paid than Queensland.

The NSW Government says their offer would result in a 19 per cent pay boost for average paramedics, putting them on par with Queensland.

The NSW Government has included take-home pay – which includes allowances, penalties and an average of four hours a week of overtime – in their offer.

About 2000 NSW paramedics are threatening to withhold renewing their registrations required for them to attend emergency events, which could lead to a meltdown on New Year’s Day when it expires.

When asked if a resolution was possible this week, Health Minister Ryan Park said: “I think it is. I know there’s a determination from myself, government and health to get this matter resolved.”

Premier Chris Minns on Monday warned “if registrations don’t go ahead for paramedics in NSW, then triple-0 calls on the first of January will collapse and that will put lives at risk”.

He told ABC Radio he’d meet with Mr Hayes “in a heartbeat” if it’d resolve the issue.

Mr Park on Monday morning said there are a “range of different contingencies” the government was considering if last-ditch negotiations fall over.

“Hopefully through the engagement of the independent umpire we can get to a process so that both parties can get this issue resolved. That’s what we want to do … We’ve got to make sure that triple-0 is preserved. And at the same time, I understand we’ve got to pay paramedics more,” he said.