‘Simply rubbish and offensive’: Ambos tipped to reject $34k pay offer

  • Published December 8, 2023
  • Industries

Daily Telegraph, 8 December 2023

A Minns government offer to boost the take-home pay of a sixth year paramedic from $132,544 to about $166,740 - more than $34,000 - has been rubbished by a union delegate as “literally a made-up number”.

A union delegate accused the Minns government of “making up figures” as NSW Health lodged the dispute with the Industrial Relations Commission with the hope the matter could be listed today.

The delegate — who did not want to be named — noted how the government offer was for “take home pay” and not the increase in “base pay” that the paramedics were demanding.

The union wants the NSW paramedics’ base pay of $79,737 to match that in Queensland, which is $94,600.

The delegate said the governments’ claim that “Year 6 paramedics” were currently receiving take home pay of about $137,000 was “rubbish”.

“It literally is a made-up number and most of us do not receive anywhere near that - they’re making it up,” the delegate said.

“It is simply rubbish and offensive to paramedics.”

Paramedics are expected to reject the eleventh-hour offer by the Minns government that it claims would have boosted the take home pay of a Year 6 ambulance officer from $132,544 to about $166,740 over two years - an increase of more than $34,000.

The offer was made at a crisis meeting held on Friday between union officials and Health Minister Ryan Park to end a long-running pay dispute that has dragged on for more than eight months.

Paramedics had been seeking a pay increase of between 25-45 per cent with about 2100 Health Services Union (HSU) members withholding their registrations in protest – a move the Minns government declared would lead to the State’s triple-0 system collapsing on New Year’s Eve.

At the lower end of the government offer, the take home pay of a typical first year paramedic would have risen from $123,594 to about $137,683 - or more than $14,000.

The offer was made on Thursday night with HSU secretary Gerard Hayes and Unions NSW secretary Mark Morrey meeting with the government on Friday to clarify the deal.

The union has been seeking assurance that the base rate of pay was comparable with what paramedics were getting in Queensland.

The government offer pertains to “take home pay”, which comprises base pay, allowances and leave and comes after an offer of binding arbitration, the re-establishment of a paramedic taskforce and private mediation.

It is understood the union will shortly conduct a Zoom meeting with paramedics to discuss the government offer.

Health Minister Ryan Park said the expected rejection of a “record offer” meant NSW now faced “the real possibility” of the State’s triple-0 service collapsing and lives being put at risk.

The government offer would have deliver professional rates of pay for paramedics and an average 19 percent pay rise, he said.

“We are bitterly disappointed the HSU has walked away from this,” Mr Ryan said.

“Our state now faces the real possibility of a collapse of our Triple 0 service and make no mistake this strike action will place lives at risk.”

The comments came as paramedics prepared to stopwork for a Statewide Zoom meeting to discuss the offer.

Mr Ryan said the offer matched NSW paramedic salaries with those in Queensland on the basis of take-home pay, by 1 January 2025.

“This is what they have asked for,” he said.

“The offer would move our paramedics from among the lowest to among the highest compared with other states.

“This is the largest public sector wages offer for NSW paramedics in recent history and provides a once in a generation opportunity to increase paramedic salaries.”

Mr Ryan said the offer recognised significant work value that was not accounted for during 12 years of Coalition wage suppression.

It is understood the meeting included a discussion for NSW to adopt the Queensland paramedics award, which the union also rejected.

More than 2100 paramedics have pledged to boycott professional registration, which was due for renewal by December 1.

The union claims hundreds of paramedics have resigned in the past six months due to cost-of-living pressures.

It argues that the existing pay of paramedics does not reflect the uplift in skills that have occurred over the past decade, with officers now performing complex diagnostic procedures and administering medicines to prevent someone suffering a heart attack from deteriorating.