ADHSU members have undeniably been put through the wringer this year. We had barely recovered from defending our homes and communities against Australia’s worst bushfire season to date when we were flung head-first into COVID-19.
While responding to crises like this comes with the territory of the job, we didn’t quite expect the Government to thank us for our hard work in the form of a public service pay freeze. While a pay freeze has been a needless slap in the face for paramedics and control-centre officers, this year’s 2.5% debacle is symptomatic of a larger issue of state-wide wage suppression at the hands of the Wages Policy. This policy ensures a devaluation of our clinical skills and profession in NSW.
Moreover, the move to cut our pay this year shows the Government’s callous devaluation of our compassion and commitment to our communities. The Wages Policy that has been in place in NSW since 2011 restricts our wages to 2.5%. It makes it illegal for us and other NSW public servants to receive a pay rise above 2.5%. NSW paramedics are the lowest paid in the country, and we will continue to fall behind the wages of our colleagues in other states for as long as this policy stays in place. Since its inception, the Value Our Service campaign’s focus has been on removing the wages policy as a first step towards professional pay. Regardless of the outcome of the 2.5% IRC hearings, 2.5% is not a win for us or our members when we know our work is worth so much more. The professional rates of pay we are campaigning for will be a ball-park figure of a 35-40% rise without trading off conditions.
In June, we had our first big campaign action and began liquid chalking ambulances around the state. This has been ongoing for well over a month now, garnering interest and a warm reception from members of the community. Our messaging has been centred around valuing our service as well as our community, who are also adversely affected by having an under-valued, under-paid ambulance service. Members of the Value Our Service Campaign Committee will be in touch with members soon to discuss the next steps and actions of the campaign.