As members will be aware, the Ambulance Victoria Enterprise Agreement 2020 (Agreement) expires on 31 January 2024 and the Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU). This post is intended to answer any common questions you may have.
Members are still encouraged to send their nomination forms to [email protected].

Q: What is a Log of Claims?

An Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a collective agreement made under the Fair Work Act. The standard procedure to update clauses in the EA is for the union to provide the employer with a “Log of Claims” and for parties to then discuss the claims at successive meetings. Our current EA has a clause requiring parties to commence renegotiation a year prior to the expiry date of February 2024, being February 2023.

Throughout 2022 the VAU consulted with members for suggestions for our Log of Claims. At time of writing The VAU received over 450 individual emails and close to 700 specific requests to be included. Claims denied in the previous round of bargaining were used as a starting point and every suggestion for a claim was discussed by VAU representatives. The result is a draft Log of Claims which has now been shared with our members.

The Code Red campaign delivered significant improvements to wages; the 2020 agreement delivered over 50 improvements to conditions while still delivering wages increases well above government wages policy. This Log of Claims focuses on updating the EA clauses with the intention of retaining staff and trying to make AV a long-term career option again.

Q: Why isn’t my suggestion in the Log?

The Fair Work Act sets out the matters that are permitted in an Enterprise Agreement (EA) which apply to the relationship between employer and employee, and between employer and union. Many of the suggestions the VAU received, while excellent proposals to improve AV or the working lives of our members, are not considered permitted matters.

Often these suggestions could be addressed by changes elsewhere, such as through improvements to policy, recruitment processes, ESTA procedures, changes to the grid, AV Vehicle and Equipment committee, budget submissions or by utilising OHS legislation.

Some suggestions put forward by members would have seen other groups disadvantaged. The VAU does not include claims that reduce the conditions of some union members for the benefit of another cohort of the membership.

All suggestions are welcome, even if they don’t fit the above criteria. This allows us to know what issues are most important to our members and that we need to fight for these in a different way, outside of the EB negotiations.

Q: Why aren’t there any changes to Superannuation or Salary Packaging?

Although salary packaging and superannuation are features in the Enterprise Agreement, the terms and conditions are governed by other instruments. The union has successfully lobbied for improvements to ESSS over recent years outside of enterprise bargaining and will continue to lobby for more improvements.

Q: What is the MICA uplift and how was it calculated?

With the changes of pay classifications awarded in the last EA it became evident that when a person becomes a MICA intern, they may be financially disadvantaged for doing so, depending on their previous ALS classification. In order to recognise their clinical skills, further training, scene leadership, support of ALS and to attract and retain MICA paramedics, these members need to be financially recognised. A single ‘uplift’ will be in addition to any incremental increases which will be applied to all classifications covered by the EA.

The current Clinical Instructor allowance will be paid for all purposes

$5.78 x 42hr per week x 52 weeks a year
= $12,623.52

Q: What about pay ‘relativity’ requests?

The current relativities in the structure were set in the successful 2016 Work Value Case. The union ran witness evidence of the paramedic and specialist classifications in the Enterprise Agreement. The Fair Work Commission made a recommendation for very significant increases to paramedic’s wages and higher amounts for specialist classifications, which the parties agreed to.

In each round of bargaining, the VAU receives multiple requests from specialist areas, for pay rates to be increased and specifically paid at equal to or higher than another classification.
This is always a challenging discussion.

A particular specialist or craft group (1) requests to be paid the same rate as another specialist group (2) which is on a higher rate of pay. Both craft groups were previously work valued, where the duties and responsibilities were assessed in relation to other operational classifications (3).

This would mean the first group would require a much higher percentage wage increase specific to their role, in addition to the percentage increases the VAU is negotiating for all members. This alone causes division and complaints from parts of the membership about disparity.

However, it is often further complicated by claims from the higher paid classification (2) to broaden the wage difference between themselves and lesser paid roles (3).

In this example there are only three points of reference, but the second group and the first group are both requesting percentage increases relative to the wage of group three, who are also seeking a wage increase.

This means that all three classifications would each be getting different individual percentage increases, which causes further disparity among members. It also sees one group broaden the relativity gap below while narrowing the relativity gap above. Again, this becomes a source of complaint.

All classifications have felt the strain of recent years. All classifications have dealt with significant increases in workload, scrutiny, and accountability. Therefore, we are seeking improvement to the wages and conditions for all members.

It is also important to note that the same percentage increase (eg. 10%) delivers higher dollar figures to higher wage earners which grows the relativity gap in dollar terms. For example.

  •   $100,000 + 10% = $110,000 ($10,000 increase)
  •   $120,000 + 10% = $132,000 ($12,000 increase)

Here the relativity gap has grown from $20,000 to $22,000.

While there are occasionally anomalies that need may need to be assessed individually or classifications that have not been work valued, the goal of the union is to deliver all members the best possible wage outcome and maintain solidarity within the membership.

Q: Where to from here and what do you need me to do?

In February 2023 you will be contacted by the VAU to ask you to nominate them as your bargaining representative. Instructions on how to do this will be included when the VAU contacts you. It is essential that you follow the instructions and complete this submission as soon as possible.

The VAU will then commence bargaining with AV and the government on your behalf. If you do not nominate the VAU as your bargaining representative, you won’t be able to vote in a protected action ballot or take part in protected industrial action. You would be unprotected.

If you believe that the VAU should continue to fight for improvement to your workplace conditions, then you need to complete the submission as soon as practicable upon receiving it. Protected industrial action and a show of force via membership engagement and support are the main tools that unions have to get a better outcome in enterprise bargaining.

If you have any further questions, or feedback about the draft Log of Claims the VAU will be collating these up until the 20 January 2023 please do not hesitate to email them to [email protected].

In Solidarity!