The Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU) and St John Ambulance Victoria (SJAV) have been meeting regularly, together with two employee representatives since 29 October 2021, to negotiate an Enterprise Agreement (EA). The VAU, SJAV and employee representatives have now addressed all claims except for wages. Given that bargaining has been progressing steadily we are hopeful that we will have constructive discussions with SJAV about wages.

As we have discussed all issues (except for wages) we are now seeking VAU members’ feedback on some claims and counterclaims made by SJAV. Available to VAU members is a link to a survey that we ask members to complete. The survey for VAU members opens today and closes COB Sunday 22 May 2022.

Updates on LOC items discussed.

VAU Members can view the full LOC if they join the VAU.

  1. Term of the Agreement – VAU maintain members’ preference is for a 3yr agreement given the changing nature of the job/scope/pressures and increased need to revisit conditions and wages to reflect this. SJAV propose a 4yr agreement.
  2. Incorporation of the Award – The VAU maintains members’ preference to incorporate the Award. The Award is regularly updated, and members would miss out on new entitlements included in the Award if it was not incorporated. SJAV wish to exclude the Award.

3. Relationship to the NES – Agreed.

4. Wages and Allowances – To be discussed at next meeting.

5. Meal Break/Crib breaks – This is still being discussed. SJAV indicated their current practice is for a paid 30-minute meal break counted as time worked. VAU requested this be reflected in the EA.

6. Shift Allowance – This is still being discussed. SJAV are obligated to meet the better off overall test (BOOT) on this item, this means employees must be better off overall under the EA than under the Award. The current Award clause provides a shift allowance of $47.99 per rostered shift payable to employees whose rostered hours of ordinary duty finish between 6.00 pm and 8.00 am or commence between 6.00 pm and 6.30 am.

7. Vaccinations – Covered in last bulletin – Agreed.

8. Rosters/Hours of Duty – The VAU are still waiting on wording that SJAV committed to provide by 18 February. SJAV want more ‘flexibility’ over their employees in relation to VAU LOC items (v) and (vi) and a clearer definition of ‘rostered equitably’ in item (ix). The VAU will seek member feedback once we receive draft wording.

The VAU have requested, in item (vi), that where individual and temporary shift changes are required, that SJAV notify the employee at least 7 days in advance or as otherwise mutually agreed. SJAV indicated Ambulance Victoria (AV) give them five (5) days’ notice of shift changes and stated that they would not want to be confined by anything that didn’t enable them to meet AV’s needs. No counter claim or proposed drafting has been received. Seven days’ notice has been included in EAs for other NEPT providers who all would have contracts with AV. The VAU are unaware of any issues this has caused for those providers.

The Award does not currently provide SJAV with the ability to make a temporary and individual shift change unless an employee is sick or unforeseen circumstances exist.

  1. Duties at the beginning and End of Shift – In response to this LOC, SJAV raised a concern about AV contractual requirements. The National Patient Transport Pty Ltd Victorian Employees Enterprise Agreement 2019 (NPT EA) has a clause that allocates 10 minutes after the commencement time of each shift to complete pre-shift checks. The VAU are not aware of any issues having arisen from this clause for NPT and their AV contracts.

It would be unreasonable and unlawful for SJAV to require employees to complete a pre-shift check without paying employees for their time.

In discussion SJAV proposed paying employees for pre and post shift checks in overtime paid at one (1) minute increments. SJAV state that to facilitate this they would cease their current practice of paying overtime in 15-minute increments. The VAU are seeking member feedback on additional information and assertion made by SJAV in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.

  1. Maximum Shifts – 1. Agreed in principle that no employee will be rostered to work more than 6 shifts consecutively or in the case of 12-hour shifts – 2 shifts consecutively, without having 48 hours off duty. 2. The VAU proposal is that no employee work more than four (4) night shifts consecutively without 72 hours off duty. SJAV counter proposed that no more than five (5) shifts are rostered consecutively without having two (2) clear days off duty, plus the rest of the day your shift finished. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  2. Minimum break between shifts – VAU members’ claim was for a 12hr break between shifts. SJAV propose cementing the current practice of a 10hr break into the EA. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  3. Overtime for not having a sufficient break –VAU members’ claim was for overtime to be paid where an employee did not have a 12-hour break between shifts. This matches our claim for maximum shifts. The VAU may amend this claim based on members’ answer to the survey question in relation to maximum shifts.
  4. On-Call Allowance – Covered in last bulletin – Agreed.
  5. Disciplinary procedure – This was discussed at the most recent meeting. SJAV were not agreeable to the thorough disciplinary procedure proposed by the VAU which would give members a clear and consistent approach to disciplinary proceedings. SJAV want to provide their own procedure to the VAU. Once we have received this, we will seek members’ feedback.
  6. Paid Training Hours – SJAV were not agreeable to three (3) days paid training. Considering the updated education requirements in the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Regulations 2016 (NEPT Regs) SJAV are reconsidering their position and will come back to the VAU. We have yet to receive anything from SJAV on this despite the meeting occurring in February. The VAU request further feedback from members on SJAVs current training approach. Previous member feedback has been that the approach to training is inconsistent. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  7. Personal Leave/Carer’s Leave – The VAU firmly believes that front-line workers require more personal leave given the nature of their work and increased exposure to infection/illnesses, increased fatigue, and longer shifts. SJAV confirmed that full-time (FT) NEPT employees use more personal leave than other employees in the SJAV business. Nevertheless, SJAV are not agreeable to increasing your personal leave allocations. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  8. Entitlement to an Extra Week of Leave – SJAV stated that they have a current practice of providing employees with the 5th week of annual leave for shift workers in employment contracts. Putting something consistent with current practice into the EA protects members conditions. SJAV have not provided their contract wording or additional draft wording on this claim.
  9. Casual Conversion – Not agreed. SJAV wish to maintain the Fair Work Act 2009 provisions of requesting conversion after 12 months, instead of six months as proposed by the VAU.
  10. Uniform – SJAV have agreed to a small increase in uniform allocation different from the VAU members claim. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  11. Late Change of Shift Allowance – SJAV has agreed in principle to pay a $20 allowance where the rostered start time of a shift is changed by two or more hours. SJAV to provide wording.
  12. Paid Delegate Leave – Not agreed.
  13. State Council Leave – Not agreed.
  14. Industrial Leave – Not agreed – SJAV propose that employees be released from duty to attend proceedings at the Fair Work Commission but will not be paid.
  15. Student Observer Allowance – Covered in last bulletin – Agreed.
  16. Dispute Resolution – SJAV disagreed with the VAU members’ proposed dispute resolution clause. SJAV want to write their own clause and will provide draft wording. The VAU have still not received drafting from SJAV.
  17. Parental Leave – Agreed in principle to include in the agreement rather than employees having to refer to the NES.
  18. Special Leave – Not agreed. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  19. Clinical Instructors – The VAU are drafting amended wording to this claim. Members’ initial claim was written prior to the introduction of the NEPT Regs and Department of Health document on clinical supervision. The VAU are seeking member feedback in relation to this claim. Please see survey question.
  20. Prescription/PPE glasses – SJAV requested time to ‘think’ on this claim raised in the 2 March meeting and have not yet provided the VAU with any further feedback.
  21. Change of contract – This was raised in the most recent meeting. SJAV are not agreeable to the claim as drafted but have stated they may be agreeable with certain changes. SJAV to provide the VAU with draft wording.
  22. Incentive for Employees to be Trained as an ATA – Covered in last bulletin – Agreed in principle though SJAV are to provide draft wording in relation to business needs and a payback provision if the ATA leaves SJAV within 18 months of training. The VAU have still not received draft wording for this clause agreed on in the 2 March meeting.
  23. Light Bars – Agreed in principle subject to draft wording. SJAV were to supply their preferred draft wording. The VAU have yet to receive wording since the 2 March meeting.
  24. Paid Vaccination Leave – Not agreed. The VAU are seeking feedback, tied to Personal Leave allocation question in the attached survey.

Update on SJA items for discussion

  1. Pre-rostered Annual Leave – SJAV wish to pre-roster four (4) weeks of your five (5) weeks annual leave. The VAU are seeking member feedback on additional information and assertion made by SJAV in relation to this clause. Please see survey question.
  2. Part-time – SJAV have provided no further draft wording on their initial proposed clause for part-time to enable them ‘flexibility’ outside of the current Award clause.
  3. Compulsory on-call engagement – Covered in last bulletin – VAU not agreeable. FT members have told the VAU that they do not wish to work compulsory on-call hours on top of their allocated FT hours.

The continued delays in providing draft wording requested or offered by SJAV on many claims means that the VAU does not have a clear idea of SJAV’s position from which we can seek members’ feedback. These delays halt progressing negotiations of these claims. The most recent working bargaining document of SJAV’s preference (outside of meeting minutes) was provided to the VAU in December 2021.

The VAU needs all SJAV members to complete this survey for the most comprehensive feedback. This is important to ensure that we are negotiating based on members’ current views. NEPT Organisers will be ringing through the SJAV members list to remind you to complete the survey.

If you have any queries, would like to nominate VAU as your bargaining representative or would like to join the VAU please contact your NEPT organisers:


In Solidarity!