End in sight

Ambulance Victoria and union officials are drafting an agreement to put to paramedics in the coming weeks, ending a bitter, prolonged industrial dispute.

The parties have been negotiating the agreement this week after Premier Daniel Andrews announced late last month an in-principle agreement had been reached.

Mr Andrews’ announcement put an end to paramedics’ industrial action, which was part of more than two years of disputation over pay and conditions.

The two-year agreement includes a $3000 sign-on bonus and a six per cent pay increase from 1 January 2015, followed by further three per cent increases on 1 July 2015 and 1 July 2016.

Ambulance Employees Australia – Victoria secretary Steve McGhie said this represented a “significant difference” to the previous State Government’s offer of the same values spread out over three years in exchange for changes to conditions.

Mr McGhie said outstanding issues had been resolved and he expected members would accept the new agreement when it was put to vote either this month or next.

“It’s a relief. It’s like a weight has been lifted,” Mr McGhie said.

“I know our members are satisfied. It will be good to get on a more positive track.

“Everyone’s interest is about making sure we have one of the best ambulance services in the world – that’s what we’re all trying to do.”

Mr Andrews also requested the Fair Work Commission make an independent decision on ambulance workers’ pay value, which the union had been calling for.

Mr McGhie said the organisation was meeting with the president of the FWC to discuss the decision-making process, which he did not believe would end until mid-year.

However, paramedics will not have to wait too long for the initial benefits of their agreement.

Ambulance Victoria Acting chief executive Tony Walker said paramedics would start receiving their sign on bonuses this week and next.

“We welcome the in principle agreement and we look forward to working with all our staff to deliver timely, quality care to our patients,” Mr Walker said.