As members would be aware, there have been 58 meetings with Ambulance Victoria (AV), and the Department of Health in order to reach agreement on a new enterprise agreement (EA) to replace the current EA which expires on 31 January 2024.

On Wednesday 20 December 2023, AV presented an offer of settlement to the unions which was also released to the workforce at the same time.

The VAU has received a significant volume of feedback about the offer from members. The union has also been asked what our view of the offer is:

The Good – subject to final drafting:
  • Introduction of leadership training – long overdue and much needed.
  • Gender transition leave – brings AV into line with other public sector agreements.
  • Clarification of long service leave accrual during first 12 months of unpaid parental leave – removes a barrier for LSL accrual while on parental leave.
  • Recognition of time for classification progression – framework that allows progression while acting in higher duties positions and for time acting in higher duties positions to be taken into account on permanent appointment.
  • Redefine Clinical Instructor Allowance to Direct Supervision Allowance – allows payment to applicable to anyone providing direct supervision in any role (communications roles, Triage Services, etc).
  • Allocation of final work location for new employees at recruitment stage – The union has long advocated for targeted rural recruitment rather than allocating people from Melbourne to remote rural Victoria.
  • Agreed Flexible Shift Primary Location for ALS Flight Paramedics – Brings ALS Flight into line with other classifications when working reserve.
  • Hour count process – This is to bring the hour count framework, which was removed in the Mx decision, back into the Agreement to clarify when members have worked overtime due to roster changes.
  • Increase to travel payments to $0.85 per km and increase based on the ATO recommended rate. Payment will also apply to electric vehicles.
  • Clarify line share as a type of FWA – removes confusion with ‘job share’.
  • Improvement to Single Days Off (SDO) – members will be able to lock in an SDO prior to being rostered. For example you can book in an SDO 10 months away and the request will not be unreasonably refused.
  • Shift vacancies – Improvement to process of filling shift vacancies to ensure that shifts are filled by the right classification. If an ACO is asked to fill a paramedic shift and a paramedic becomes available, the remainder of the shift will be filled by the paramedic and the ACO reallocated and paid appropriately.
  • Reimbursement of lost, stolen or damaged headphones – Improvement for members who smash their headphones at work. 
  • Introduction of Timebank into the enterprise agreement – putting timebank into the Agreement is an improvement however it will only apply to rostered shifts. It cannot be used in the same way as the new SDO provision. Members can only use timebank hours to be taken out of shifts already rostered (6 weeks out). The VAU would like the same notice period to apply to SDO and timebank hours.
  • Permanent Part Time right of return – this will allow members to convert to permanent part time and have the right to return to full time hours if they choose (similar to the right of a casual employee to convert to permanent). The purpose of this is allow the option of converting to part time and locking in a permanent roster arrangement rather than renegotiating an FWA every 12 months. However, AV are seeking that the employer is able to change the roster with 28 days-notice, under certain circumstances
  • Shift allocation and flexible shift model – improvements to the way in which shifts are allocated with a new model that protects members who do not wish to be displaced from their home branch and prioritises incentivised voluntary flexibility (both single shift and block month). Members who provide block month flexibility will be paid $49 per day (current TRP rate) and members who provide day-to-day flexibility will be paid $100 per day (equivalent of current SRP/RSRP rate). However, this model is not yet finalised and requires further work to be properly considered by members.
  • Priority to fill payment – to be altered to incentivise paramedics working at hard to fill locations for longer periods. The VAU has not yet formed a view on this change.
  • Travel for full shift overtime – AV are agreeing to introduce travel for full shift overtime into the enterprise agreement for both Metropolitan and Rural members, however this will only apply to any travel time of over 60 minutes.
  • Workload clause – The parties have agreed to introduce the workload clause that is currently in the AV Management and Administration Agreement (AVMA) into the operational agreement. However, work still needs to be done to ensure that the clause is strong enough to have a tangible effect on operational members.
  • Transition of Administrative/ Corporate roles to the AVMA – The unions are waiting for a detailed proposal to be put forward which outlines how members would be ‘no worse off’. We have not yet seen the details of this proposal. While there are some senior positions that may benefit from moving to the AVMA, we have serious concerns about any change that may see administrative/corporate members worse off.
The Bad:
  • Reduction in overtime entitlements for part time employees and employees on Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) – AV propose that members working less than full time hours will not receive full-shift overtime rates of pay until they have worked 38 hours. If AV were to request members to assist filling roster gaps, or responding to Code Orange texts during an emergency, a member on an FWA, would not be paid at overtime rates until they complete 38 hours. This proposal would negatively impact members who have childcare responsibilities, medical issues, or transitioning to retirement.
  • Remove entitlement to 40 hours of additional Personal Leave – AV propose to remove the entitlement to an additional 40 hours of personal leave which members receive when they provide evidence of personal leave within 3 months of absence, for 5 consecutive years.
  • Reduce travel entitlement – AV propose that members only be able to claim excess distance and related travel time when then they direct you to work at other locations. This is a change from employees currently claiming all time and distance when required to work at other locations where further than distance normally travelled to get to work.
Outstanding Matters:
  • End of shift management – The VAU have sought significant improvement to end of shift management which prevents members from working unreasonable overtime. AV have stated they are only prepared to introduce the measures in current policy into the agreement, which will do little to prevent members from working unreasonable incidental overtime. AV have rejected these claims.
  • Wages – The VAU have sought wages increases of 6% per annum for all classifications on the 01 Feb 2024, 01 Feb 2025, 01 Feb 2026; or all pay rates will increase in line with CPI increases whichever is higher. The VAU have also sought additional wage levels to extend from year 9 to year 15 in order to retain the experienced workforce. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • MICA uplift – In order to provide a wage relativity between ALS, that reflects the frontline clinical leadership and responsibility of MICA paramedics, the VAU have sought an initial wage uplift of $12,623.52 to all MICA qualified paramedics. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Ambulance Response Units – The VAU has sought that the ARU rate of pay be paid for all purposes for ARU qualified ALS paramedics, Team Managers and Senior Team Managers. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Clinical Instructors – The VAU have sought an increase in the Clinical Instructor allowance from $5.78 per hour to $8.80 per hour. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Meal Allowances – The VAU has sought increases to Meal Allowances including LAHA allowances, Late Crib Meal Allowances, overtime meal allowance and payment of two Crib Meal Allowances for shifts that incur two meal break periods. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • On-call Paramedics and Ambulance Community Officers – the VAU has sought an increase to the on-call allowance from $9.08p/h to $18.16 per hour and to apply to ACOs, increased minimum call out payment from 1.5 hours to 3 hours for each call out, and payment of Broken Meal Allowance when an employee is on call and is called out in their Window of Opportunity. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Unsociable Shift Incentives – The VAU has sought to increase the application of unsociable shift allowances to include, additional nightshifts, afternoon shifts that finish beyond 2300, double nightshifts, extended to on-call locations. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Other Allowances – The VAU has sought additional allowances for members including higher education allowance, ARV PTO allowance, Search, Rescue and Retrieval Skills allowance. Reimbursement of Working with Children’s Check. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Overtime – The VAU has sought improvements to overtime rates of pay including all overtime to be paid at double time, and double the rolled in rate of pay, overtime on a public holiday to be paid at triple the rolled in rate of pay, unsociable shift allowance applicable to full shift overtime. AV have rejected these claims in line with Government wages policy.
  • Right to disconnect – The VAU is seeking a clause that protects the rights of a member not to be contacted outside of rostered hours. This is an entitlement that currently exists to management staff covered by the AVMA. There have been discussions about this claim however it is not included in the AV offer.
Productivity and efficiency:

Enterprise bargaining is an opportunity for employers and unions to work together to improve the workplace. The VAU have put forward a number of suggestions to improve productivity and efficiency including:

  • Allowing the ACO workforce to work full shifts in a patient transport capacity to free up paramedics for emergency work.
  • Introducing shorter nightshifts that can be worked by members on FWAs and part time as part of their regular rostered hours of work rather than rostering additional shifts as overtime.
  • Introduction of OHS clauses and improved HSR entitlements to improve workplace health and safety and reduce employees being off work due to workplace injury.
  • Safe staffing levels in control rooms to manage resourcing, meal breaks, end of shift management, crew welfare and ensure on-road staff have access to clinical support.
AV have rejected these suggestions and instead want to remove entitlements that you have fought for and won in previous EBA negotiations, to pay for their ‘offer’.

AV titled their offer as ‘A settlement offer to help create a better workplace for you’.

It is the view of the VAU bargaining team that the current offer does not come close to creating a workplace that retains its experienced staff. Instead, this offer allows the churn and burn to continue. It is a missed opportunity to make genuine improvements to the working lives of paramedics and ambulance workers. It unfairly targets members on FWA/PPT and overlooks their requests for shorter shifts so they can contribute more nightshift hours. It overlooks the contribution made by ACOs and the frontline leadership provided by MICA.  

This is your agreement, and it is important to have your say. Please continue to send in your feedback. Members on the VAU Facebook group are encouraged to complete the poll on whether you support or reject the AV offer.

In Solidarity.