NSW Premier Mike Baird was expected to deliver a proposal Tuesday, January 17, for a action on recovery of former entitlements and an increase in protection for NSW paramedics.
However, a spokesperson for the Premier on Friday said discussions between the NSW Ambulance and Health Services Union (HSU) Paramedics division are ongoing, and there will be no Tuesday announcement.
Tuesday was the understood 90-day deadline for Mr Baird to reconsider the request by ambulance officers, who seek their former seven years death and disability entitlements.
Prior to Friday’s statement, New England sub-branch HSU vice-president and Clint McSpedden said they were cautiously optimistic about the outcome.
After consultation with his HSU superiors on Friday afternoon, Mr Spedden said the date has been shifted to January 31.
He said it was conveyed to him the 90 days did not account for holidays. This is despite the fact NSW ambulance officers have been chalking a 90-day countdown on their ambulances since the October 19 meeting with Mr Baird.
However, Mr McSpedden remained positive. “Stay tuned,” he said. “Watch this space. HSU has been in intensive negotiations with the government, on the 31st which appears, on the surface will be a very positive outcome for NSW paramedics,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that he told us to have good faith and trust him. Why would he say 90 days, and then it’s not 90 days?”
NSW paramedics’ coverage was gutted down to two years, nearly 80 per cent of insurance entitlements, by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission after months of negotiation with the HSU and NSW Ambulance.
They are seeking coverage they previously received, and provision of more safety measures, training and injury-preventative equipment and qualified counselling and debriefing.
Mr McSpedden said when the HSU Ambulance Division and its members met with the Mr Baird on October 19, the Premier said he valued paramedics, and voiced an intention ‘fix it’.
After a silent protest wearing signs of ‘unprotected’ in their fluro vests, and chalking protests on the ambulance vehicles, the paramedics agreed to tone down their campaign, but continued to chalk a countdown to January 17 with the provision Mr Baird has something fair and legitimate.
“We can’t be insured privately, because of the high risk nature of our job,” Mr McSpedden said. “The police have still got cover and and fire brigade has still got cover, so we’re just saying, we’ve got the same phone number – why can’t we have similar cover?”