Ambos have 99 pay meetings, but the deal ain't won

Excessive overtime is the key sticking point in a long-running industrial dispute between Victoria's ambulance service and its paramedics, as union members escalate action.

Victorian Ambulance Union members have voted in favour of 70 new work bans including no longer booking taxis for patients and using digital systems for medication checks or to track equipment.

The union insists the action won't impact patient safety as it is focused on administrative tasks.

A paramedic and an ambulance (file image)
Paramedics are seeking improved sick leave, a pay increase and better entitlements. (Luis Ascui/AAP PHOTOS)

Secretary Danny Hill said it was disappointing the union needed to increase action but after 99 negotiation meetings, his members still didn't have an agreement that would help achieve a better work-life balance or encourage workers to stay in the job.

"Labor boasts its credentials on supporting ambos. Enterprise bargaining is where they need to put their money where their mouth is," Mr Hill said.

"Ultimately paramedics want to reduce the amount of overtime they are forced to work every day.

"But (Ambulance Victoria) won't let them go home, not because they are responding to emergencies, they are responding to low acuity cases or ramped for hours in hospital corridors".

Since March, paramedics have scribbled slogans and stopped collecting patient billing details under the first phase of their industrial action.

The union served a log of claims on Ambulance Victoria in February 2023, with improved sick leave, a pay increase, overtime entitlements and travel allowances among key requests.

Victorian health minister Mary-Anne Thomas said excessive overtime is the key sticking point in negotiations and it is taking time to resolve rostering issues.

"Government, Ambulance Victoria and the union do not want our paramedics working excessive overtime, so end of shift management is a key priority," she said.

"But we will not and cannot compromise patient safety, so the management of this issue and the resolution of it is a complex one.

"The ambulance union has given assurances that patient safety will not be compromised but I will seek advice in relation to this."

A spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria said the health of Victorians would not be put at risk during industrial action.

"Ambulance Victoria respects our people's right to take protected action during these negotiations," they said.

"Most importantly, if Victorians have an emergency and you need an ambulance, you will get one, and patient safety will not be impacted."

Mary-Anne Thomas
Victorian health minister Mary-Anne Thomas will seek advice about possible patient safety impacts. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

Several prominent health and emergency services unions have threatened or staged industrial action in Victoria in the past 12 months.

Victoria's police union recently secured a nine-day fortnight in an in-principle agreement that was struck with the force following 12 months of negotiations.

In May, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation members voted against the recommendations of their union leaders and rejected a renewed pay offer from the state government.

Opposition spokeswoman Jess Wilson called on the government to resolve all industrial disputes as soon as possible.

"We've got industrial disputes right across our frontline services and that's putting at risk Victoria's frontline services, it's putting at risk patient outcomes," Ms Wilson said.