The arbitration hearing regarding the Queensland Ambulance Service Determination began on Tuesday 2nd of July. The first week consisted mainly of evidence from QAS, except for one United Voice witness, Professor John Quiggin, one of Australia’s leading economists.
Professor John Quiggin’s expert economic evidence was very critical of the economic assumptions of the Newman Government’s Commission of Audit report. He also disagreed with the Newman Government’s position that the best way to address the state’s financial position is to reduce debt by cutting employment costs.
Queensland Ambulance Service’ evidence focused on the inability of QAS to afford the union’s claims. QAS maintained that a reduction in roster notification would not affect employees’ family lives, that meal overtime payments are an illegitimate penalty payment to employees and that employees dishonestly claim this entitlement.
A number of concessions were drawn from QAS witnesses in relation to the effect of the QAS proposed roster reduction claim and the QAS proposed abolition of meal windows and meal overtime payments claim. QAS evidence in respect of the meal penalty included concessions that there was no evidence of employees dishonestly claiming the meal entitlement and that QAS management had a range of management tools by which it could manage the taking of meals within the meal window.
The Full Bench requested an inspection of a communications centre with a date to be arranged shortly.
It remains a concern that QAS is hiding behind Government policy to justify its claims for reductions in employment costs. The QAS put in their opening submission that any wages award to paramedics above what the Newman Government was offering would result in reductions in QAS services.
The next dates in the arbitration will be Wednesday 21 August to Thursday 23 August, with another date for witness evidence on Friday 30 August 2013.