From tomorrow, over one-thousand St John Ambulance Professionals will be taking an unusual form of strike action; they will be swapping out their regular St John uniforms for mufti and orange high-vis vests that read, ‘Shift Our Pay’.
FIRST Union members are taking the partial strike action after ten days of negotiations over several months in a response to the company’s decision to refuse to recognise the time, effort and strain caused by shift work to ambulance professionals.
Union members have chosen this partial strike action to ensure it is of no impact to the health and safety of the public.
FIRST Union Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing Divisional Secretary, Jared Abbott, says the action is fit for purpose.
“We want to send a clear message to the company and to the public about the reality of low waged, 24/7 shift work without jeopardising patient safety.”
Mr Abbot says in a similar action in 2016, St John retaliated against Union members for wearing the non-regulation t-shirts through making pay deductions of 10%.
“St John came under heavy fire from the public for making the deductions just before Christmas and during what is always a very busy time of year for frontline staff. It was not a popular move.”
He says the action is just as much about retaining skilled staff as it is about recognising the pressure and life disturbances that shift work brings.
“It’s about retention as well as recognition. Our ambulance professionals invest in expensive degrees to be able to perform the life-saving work that they do. Every other frontline profession in the public health system receives some sort of recognition for working shift work, why does the Government care less about our first responders who are ambulance personnel? We need to ensure they have the wages to sustain and live their lives too.”
Further action is planned but in all instances the priority of ensuring patient safety will remain paramount.