New England ambulance stations with “priority safety needs” could be one step closer to much needed repairs after a recommendation by the state’s Industrial Relations Commission, the paramedics union claims.
Australian Paramedics Association (APA) NSW secretary Steve Pearce expected pressing safety-related work to be completed by the end of November after a hearing in the state’s Industrial Relations Commission this week. He said a regional working party would be formed to ensure works were completed.
“It is ground zero in New England and we’re making sure, and the members are keen to ensure, that this goes forward,” he said.
“Local delegates will ensure what works are to go ahead. If not, unfortunately we will be at an impasse again and we will review where we stand industrially.”.
APA New England delegate Scott Clark said local staff had identified Wee Waa, Ashford and Tamworth as some of the top priorities for maintenance work.
“Our position is that they all need to be replaced as they are no longer fit for purpose,” he said. “We're concerned that the government may look to renovate Wee Waa and Ashford. We believe if Premier Berejiklian is serious about infrastructure like she is with Allianz Stadium in Sydney, then the most obvious choice would be to simply replace them.
“We're quite concerned about the situation at Ashford. We're suspicious that the service will turn the adjacent three-bedroom residence into the relief quarters and leave the staff in the station which is tiny and like Wee Waa, no longer fit for purpose.
“Paramedic working conditions come first, but we're also very mindful of the efficient use of taxpayer dollars and for this we need a serious long-term plan, not short-term expensive band-aid solutions that leave us having the same conversation in five years time.”
But NSW Ambulance has disputed the claims and said no ruling was made by the IRC to form a working group.
“NSW Ambulance has, on previous occasions, invited unions to join a specific working party to address relief quarters in the New England sector and across the state,” a statement said. “The IRC recommendation [on Wednesday] was for the union to participate in meetings and join the working party already offered by NSW Ambulance. The IRC also did not make any ruling on a 50-day time frame.”