News

Following on from members voting to take part in industrial action the Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU), Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU), United Firefighters’ Union (UFU) and United Workers Union (UWU) has formally notified ESTA of our intention to take protected industrial actions. The actions have been notified to commence at 0600 on Monday 18 December 2023 and are indefinite. The Unions encourage maximum participation for maximum impact.

ESTA has raised a number of objections and has threatened to apply to the Fair Work Commission to have these actions suspended. We believe we have now resolved these concerns, but it is important to read the Further Details of each action. Please stay up to date about the industrial action campaign by checking your Union’s social media or speaking to your delegate.

Those actions are:

Action no.ActionFurther details (as applicable)
4Employees will not perform work unless wearing union uniform and/or clothing other than ESTA uniformMembers will present at work at the commencement of their shift not wearing ESTA uniform.
Make sure that you take reasonable care for your own safety and that of your colleagues when choosing attire to wear during this industrial action. 
5Employees will undertake stoppages to the performance of duties – other than activities related to emergency response – to not comply with Control Room Protocols. In particular, employees will not comply with the protocol regarding taking photographs on the control room floor.Just prior to your rest break, stop work for 5 seconds to not comply with the Control Room Protocols. Specifically, this means taking photographs in the control room floor during the stoppage. Other Control Room Protocols will continue to be followed.
Do not post the photographs on social media unless notified otherwise by the Unions. Please forward the photos to the Unions.
The Unions have undertaken that members won’t take photographs that:
 
** include personal, sensitive information pertaining to members of the public;
** contain LEAP or CAD data;
could be used to identify any person without their consent; and/or
** could be used to identify the location of the control room floor.
6Employees will not perform work unless they are able to publish information on Social Media during work time relating to enterprise bargaining issues, industrial issues and conditions of employment for ESTA operational staff.Don’t perform work unless you are able to publish information on Social Media during work time relating to enterprise bargaining issues, industrial issues and conditions of employment for ESTA operational staff.
8An indefinite ban on employees accurately reporting or recording false alarm codes and/or reasoning/explanations for the false alarms triggered at protected premises.Don’t report or record correctly, codes and/or any further explanation as given by appliances on these events.
16Employees will undertake stoppages to the performance of duties – other than activities related to emergency response – where employees will set up an automated out of office reply function on their ESTA email, which will set out why they are taking industrial action.Just prior to your first rest break, stop work for 10 seconds to set up an automated out of office reply function on your ESTA email, which sets out why you are taking industrial action.
17An indefinite ban on employees complying with the standard protocols regarding the end of radio transmissions. Employees will instead conclude radio transmissions with union messages or with short updates regarding industrial and or bargaining matters.Conclude radio transmissions with union messages or short updates regarding industrial and or bargaining matters.
The duration of the messages/updates should be approximately 5 seconds or less.
No undertaking has been made but we anticipate that members will use their discretion to ensure that this action does not compromise public health or safety.
32An indefinite ban on employees signing off ‘comms bulletin’ updates.Don’t sign off ‘comms bulletin’ updates.
45An indefinite ban on performing and recording status checks for ERTCOMM and NETCOMM dispatch.Don’t perform and record status checks for ERTCOMM and NETCOMM dispatch.
52Employees will not perform work unless they are able to record and/or broadcast over the radio how many Call-Takers are logged in to take calls.Broadcast over the radio or make a written record on CAD which states how many call-takers are logged in to take calls at that moment in time.
 
Any broadcast should not take more than 5 seconds to complete.
 
The entering of the record into CAD will be completed during the normal After Call Work.
 
No undertaking has been made but we anticipate that members will use their discretion to ensure that this action does not compromise public health or safety.
53An indefinite ban on creating a record of any employees’ participation in protected industrial actionDon’t create a record of any employees’ participation in protected industrial action.
Actions, action number and details.

FAQs – further details about your right to take part in the protected industrial action

1. Can I lose my job for taking part in the Protected Industrial Action?

No. Your employment is protected whilst taking the notified listed actions. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has approved the actions listed above for members to take to further their claims in the proposed Enterprise Agreement. Action could only become unprotected if it involves personal injury, wilful or reckless destruction or damage of property or the unlawful taking, keeping or use of property.

2. Why are there only 10 actions when we voted on 53?

Many members would not have participated in Industrial Action (IA) before. The Unions have started by nominating some of the easier to do and most popular actions. This will ensure maximum participation from eligible members. In addition, the message that members send in the beginning stages can spur an employer to come back to the bargaining table with improved offers. The other actions will be added in stages.

3. Who can participate in the Protected Industrial Action?

If you are a member of the CEPU, UFU, UWU or are a VAU member who nominated the VAU as your bargaining representative and were eligible to vote in the protected action ballot (PABO) (regardless of whether you voted yes to particular actions or not), you have the right to participate in any or all of the protected actions listed above. As it is protected, ESTA cannot target you for taking part in the actions notified.

4. Can new VAU members participate in the current notified actions if they hadn’t nominated the VAU at the time of the PABO order?

If you are a VAU member and you did not notify ESTA that the VAU was your nominated bargaining representative before 1 December 2023 you cannot participate in the industrial action. You could participate in future industrial action if you nominate the VAU after that date and there is a second PABO order. If you are a new member, we encourage you to nominate the VAU now as your bargaining representative.

5. Will employees be deducted pay for taking part in industrial action?

Currently, members can only be deducted pay for engaging in the protected action of stoppages of work. During a stoppage of work, you are not performing duties and therefore no obligation of payment is expected. The other actions are partial work bans (i.e., the actions still involve performing work and/or the refusal to perform additional work). For ESTA to deduct pay for taking part in partial work bans, section 471(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)requires that they must give an employee written notice, stating that because of the partial work ban, the employee’s payments will be reduced by a proportion. A calculation supplied by the FWC must be applied.

To date neither AV, NPT, RFDS or St John have engaged in deduction of pay for partial work bans during protected industrial action. ESTA will make history as the first if they do so, which the Unions will ensure the public are aware of in media releases.

The other option that ESTA have is to refuse to accept partial performance of work. As employees would be locked out and not performing work, employees would not be entitled to payment. For ESTA to do this, section 471(4) of theFair Work Act requires that ESTA give notice to the employee that they will not accept partial performance and will not make payment until the employee resumes full duties.

6. Will non-members be docked pay?

The Unions often receive questions from members in relation to taking protected industrial action with other employees who are not entitled to take the protected industrial actions. Members and non-members are concerned that they will be docked pay. The Unions have given ESTA the required notice of three working days as required by the Fair Work Act. Therefore, ESTA should have put a plan in place to mitigate the effects of protected action, and this includes ensuring employees not entitled to take part in the protected industrial actions can continue working while industrial action is taken.

7. Shall I inform ESTA that I am engaging in industrial action?

There is no requirement to notify your employer that you are engaging in protected industrial action on the day (as they have already been notified by the Unions). Action 53 of the notified industrial action is an indefinite ban on creating a record of participation in industrial action.  In some circumstances for future actions, it may assist with job planning to let ESTA know you are participating, putting the onus back on the employer to mitigate the effects of the protected industrial action. We will let you know in the future if we recommend letting ESTA know you are participating in industrial action. It is up to you whether you advise your employer or not.

8. What happens if I do decide to tell ESTA I am doing an action but then for whatever reason do not take the protected action on that day?

Nothing happens. For example, you have notified you will be undertaking a stoppage of work to talk to the media but then the radio host is unavailable, so you do not stop work. Keep a record of that.

9. Will the actions have financial or health and safety concerns?

The Unions have purposely chosen actions that still allow our members to perform their important essential roles (as the actions are a mixture of partial work bans, change of procedure etc). For this reason, there is potential for financial impact on ESTA and a potential small financial impact on the person partaking, for potential deductions. The actions send a loud message to ESTA. They also have an effect of informing the public about the wages and conditions you endure in ‘service’ of the community.

10. How long do the actions last?

The actions that have been notified will continue until further notice.

The VAU and other Unions have up to 30 days to commence other actions that were approved.  Once each action has commenced, there is no limit to how many times it can be notified, or how long each period of industrial action can last, by extension, as long as it is a protected action and properly notified.

11. Do I have to take part in industrial action because I voted?

No, you can choose to take part in none, some, or all of the actions. The Unions urge you to take part in all the protected actions. Improvements to wages and conditions only happen when members fight hard for their claims and resist employers attempts to scare them into accepting below par Agreements.

Next Steps


It is important that ESTA receives a loud and clear message that the Unions claims are responded to in a reasonable and timely manner. The Enterprise Agreement has expired and members are entitled to wage increases to keep up with the cost of living, in addition to taking on well-earned leave entitlements – if you can access it! Industrial action takes resilience and dogged determination to improve the working lives of yourself and your workmates. If you have any issues or concerns about how to implement the actions, please contact your Union delegate or official.

In solidarity.