Arbitration Update - November 1, 2013

 

 The hearing of the arbitration of the Queensland Ambulance Service – Determination 2010 is now complete. 

The last day of evidence was on Tuesday 15 October 2013. During the last day of evidence, UV cross-examined the evidence of QAS witness Mr Metcalfe on the history of meal windows and the meal overtime penalty. Mr Metcalfe gave evidence that meal windows and the penalty have been a longstanding entitlement of QAS employees, previously supported by the QAS. Mr Hartley for QAS was also cross-examined on the erroneous nature of the basis of his paramedics’ ‘workload efficiency’ measure, which the QAS sought to use to illustrate that paramedics have significant amounts of downtime in shifts. 

 

The last day of evidence was followed by the hearing of final submissions on Friday 25 October 2013. 

The QAS continued to file last minute affidavit material purportedly going to the ‘misconduct’ and ‘fraud’ engaged in by paramedics up to and including the date of the final submissions. United Voice objected to the character of the material and the fact the QAS did not provide a fair and reasonable opportunity for UV witnesses to assess and respond comprehensively to these serious allegations. Due to UV’s strong objection, the QIRC ruled that this material was not to form part of the evidence in the arbitration. 

During final submissions, the QAS argued that the Government’s wages policy – of offering employees 2.2% only – must be the principal consideration for the QIRC in making its decision. UV argued that the QIRC has obligations under the Industrial Relations Act 1999 to consider all of the evidence presented in the case on its merits. 

Throughout final submissions for the QAS, the barrister for the QAS made constant references to alleged widespread “fraud” and “impropriety” of QAS paramedics. 

In summary, the barrister for United Voice argued on behalf of union members the following in relation to United Voices’ major claims: 

  • That QAS employees deserve and are entitled to a pay rise above the Government offer, commensurate with cost of living increases and the increasing skill and knowledge required to provide the service to the community; 
  • That the QAS should not be able to change the 13 week roster projection with 3 weeks’ notice as this will unduly interfere with the personal and family circumstances of QAS employees; 
  • That paramedics should keep meal windows and the meal overtime penalty so as to ensure QAS continues to strive to provide meal breaks to employees.  

We again take this opportunity to thank and congratulate all those members who provided witness affidavits and gave evidence in the proceedings. The UV witnesses deserve a huge round of applause for putting their careers and reputations on the line to fight for the conditions and entitlements of all QAS employees. 

We look forward to the decision of the QIRC on the arbitration and will advise members of any updates as soon as they are available.

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