After months of industrial action to draw attention to the low wages and poor conditions of work, Ambulance Professionals are delighted that there government has listened but fear the money won’t make it to the frontline where it is needed.
This morning, Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters announced that Ambulance Professionals have been remembered as part of the wellbeing budget. However, early indications are that St John will not be passing the money onto those who work on the frontline and instead plan to use the money on infrastructure despite admitting they had never asked for it.
In a release today St John states, “This non-recurring budget uplift will relieve some of the immediate pressures St John is facing like moving its 111 Clinical Control Centre people out of a leaky building and into a fit for purpose space.”
The budget will provide for an injection of over 37-million into St John, 21 million of which is additional to previously announced funding. Twenty-one million is exactly what FIRST union members asked for when they met with Winston Peters just a few weeks ago.
spokesperson Sarah Stone says staff are grateful for the
funding but surprised that it had not been earmarked for
wages given St John has repeatedly refused to ask for
“St John has told us time and time again they refused to ask for more money. Our members have been campaigning and taking partial strike actions because St John won’t speak up for its staff, now they want to take the money they have won and direct it elsewhere.”
Health Minister, David Clark, says paramedics and clinical staff are increasingly dealing with; “More complex conditions and decision making and seeing and treating patients in their own home.”
Intensive Care Paramedic, Dean Brown, along with around
1000 other ambulance professionals, has been taking a series
of partial strike actions since November 2018. These include
not wearing the correct uniform and using chalk pens to
write campaign messages on ambulances.
“The Minister is correct, our job is increasingly demanding in skill and with the weekends and nights we constantly work. St John needs to pass this money onto the staff that deliver wellbeing."
Ms Stone says if staff do not
receive what is owed, matters will only get worse.
“If St John continues to squander this money without recognising the work its staff does and the relief ambulance officers need, they will be wasting good money. We will likely see a noticeable escalation in strike activity.”
adds that the Union is currently arranging at date for
Facilitated Bargaining with St John.
“We hope to be able to secure a result on that day.”
Anonymous comments from staff thus
“This was our fear – that they would hijack our strike publicity for the overall ‘issues’ of St John, and not address our pay dispute.”
“There is going to be a real problem finding staff in
Auckland with poor wages... it’s pretty clear they [St
John] have not been listening.”