NEW England paramedics have made a sensational stand in their mounting fight against the state government to reverse cuts to their death and disability pension.
Ambulances across the region have all been chalked with various phrases, including “NSW paramedics, most trusted, least protected”.
The bold statewide campaign, known as Zero One Code One, is in response to dramatic changes to the paramedic death and disability pension, which cut entitlements to 75 per cent of a pay packet for just two years.
It’s “bugger all” when you consider entitlements once meant they could be rehabilitated and return to work within seven years, Health Services Union New England sub-branch secretory, Brian Bridges, argues.
The cuts have forced paramedics to take extra crews to respond to jobs out of fears they won’t be suitably covered if injury or assault strikes.
“It means extra protection with the way we do things,” Mr Bridges said.
“With the number of assaults, the number of ice addicts we see everyday, we need to be vigilant the way we go about our procedures.”
In a crisis talk with furious paramedics just days after the changes were introduced, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson vowed to fight the cuts.
But with no response since, the HSU has spearheaded the chalk campaign to raise enough eyebrows to have the decision reversed.
It also follows an unsuccessful appeal with the industrial relations commission.
“We just want what we’re entitled to,” Mr Bridges said.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about providing (a suitable pension) if you sustain an injury on the job. One-in-five paramedics will sustain an injury every day.”
Mr Anderson revealed to The Leader on Sunday that he had “a very good hearing” with health minister Jillian Skinner on Thursday.
“I’ve put their voice to the minister,” Mr Anderson said.
“She was receptive to what I was talking about on a couple of things. It certainly wasn’t that she was not listening.
“I was encouraged by the conversation.”