The Health Services Union have joined the Australian Paramedics Association in accepting Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s deal following a months long standoff over compulsory Working With Children Checks.
While the two unions might not have got the deal they have been fighting for HSU New England sub branch delegate Dave Lucietto said it was the right decision.
For more than a year paramedics have been refusing to pay the $80 WWCC fee, which Mr Lucietto called “a taxation on employment”.
Earlier this year paramedics refused to collect billing information from patients, effectively giving free rides, while a strike action was also set to take place as of July 31 if a deal had not been struck.
The new deal will see paramedics continue to pay for their own WWCC, which needs to be renewed every five years, while the government will pick up a $190 – $230 registration fee paid by all health workers in the state.
While the APA agreed to the deal early last week, the HSU only came to terms with Mr Hazzard on Friday.
“It may not have been the rocking victory we wanted, and we might not have got everything we have been fighting for, but sometimes we have to make decisions that benefit the most people, and this was a big step in the right direction,” he said.
“We put it to a vote and over 80 per cent said yes – it is a good deal because a very big part of the conversation was him (Hazzard) committing to ‘doing everything he could’ to boost the number of paramedics across the state.”
Mr Lucietto believes that NSW is in desperate need of at least 800 additional paramedics.
“Mr Hazzard has committed to boosting those numbers, and while he still has to get it through the treasury we are hopeful.”
One of the main reasons that the state would not bend in regards to the WWCC is that the levy is worth millions of dollars in revenue to government coffers, with nurses, teachers and anyone else who does “child related work” required to have one.
“We knew that if we won the government would have teachers and nurses knocking down their door,” Mr Lucietto said.
“But by doing what we did we bought the minister to us, and took a step in the right direction.”