Can your vote be bought for 0.5%?

In just a matter of months the government has done a backflip, albeit a minor and welcome one, on Ambulance Officers’ pay and it’s no coincidence that it’s happened in an election year.

QAS spent all its time and effort in the recent EBA arbitration arguing Ambulance Officers were only worth a 2.2% pay rise and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission agreed with them.

However, the award has since increased and QAS has paid the 0.5% difference when they had no legal obligation to do so. QAS has never before paid above the legal minimum required of it.

The QIRC could not deliver a wage increase which would see officers worse off financially than if they were covered by the modern award. At the time of the determination, the 2.2% pay rise was above the award.

There’s no doubt the negative reaction against the 2.2% and the increased activism of members in the lead up to the election is worrying politicians – who must have approved the pay rise.

The government is aware of the unparalleled public support enjoyed by Ambulance Officers. An ongoing Ambulance campaign is the last thing the government wants. Recent United Voice member activism includes:

  • a delegation of members meeting with the Health Minister on major concerns
  • regularly reporting ramping to the union that takes the message to the public
  • filling in SHE Reports on missed breaks
  • campaigning against PTO privatisation and other actions
  • a series of Right to Information requests on ambulance pressure points including unfilled shifts and station closures.

The government and QAS will argue the extra pay is related to the recent state wage case. The truth is that decision has no legal impact where an EBA’s pay rate is equal to, or above, the minimum award rate – as is the case with Ambulance Officers.

The half percent increase above the legal requirement is welcome, but it will not buy the silence and compliance of Ambulance Officers concerned about patient care and their profession.

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