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Ambos ordered into mediation over dispute

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The South Australian Employment Tribunal has ordered the SA Ambulance Employees Association into mediation with the government to resolve an ongoing industrial dispute over ambulance resourcing and rostering reform.

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President of the tribunal Justice Steven Dolphin made the decision late Thursday, with talks between the government and the union set to take place at 11:30 am this morning.

It comes after the AEA decided to take industrial action on Wednesday, with paramedics not identifying ambulance patients for billing purposes if they experience prolonged wait times outside hospitals.

The union has indicated it may expand this action to cover all patients, which could cost the government hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue every day depending on the number of cases.

Treasurer Rob Lucas, who is also responsible for industrial relations, said an agreement in mediation would require “compromise from both sides” and the cessation of all industrial action from the union.

“We welcome this development and hope that, ultimately, it leads to sensible discussions, which is something the Government has long been calling for,” Lucas said.

“The Government has always been willing to negotiate fairly and sensibly with the union, in the interests of hardworking paramedics and all South Australians, as we strive to further improve our ambulance service.

“As we have indicated publicly, the Government remains willing to provide further additional resources to the ambulance service so long as the union agrees to sensible industrial reforms, including in relation to rosters (shorter shifts) and meal breaks, and the cessation of all industrial action.”

AEA industrial officer Rob Leaney said paramedics are being asked to make unnecessary sacrifices for better resourcing.

“What [the government] seem to want to do is to make members give up conditions in order to get sufficient staffing to make the community safe,” Leaney told ABC radio on Thursday.

“If you take that to its logical conclusion, we’ll do this and we’ll get a few staff and we’ll give up some conditions next time [because] we’ll need some more staff in three years time and we’ll do the same again.

So … ultimately, there are no conditions for ambulance officers and paramedics – it’s a ridiculous notion.”

Leaney also said there has been “no consultation at all” from the government on roster reform.

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