2021 was hoped to be the light at the end of the tunnel after a pretty ordinary 2020. Unfortunately, the exit from the tunnel does not seem much closer than it did 12 months ago. Our members have experienced the impact of the fight against COVID-19. And it’s been tough and will be for a while yet.
Employers across the industry have been shown to have been ill-prepared and it is the workers who have worn the brunt of it.
As recently as last weekend we heard more about AV’s failure to forward plan. The media focussed on the shortage of MICA paramedics and again we heard from those with skin in the game claiming that the cause was COVID-19. This is a convenient excuse for years of neglect. The shortages in MICA were evident to those of us working on road well before COVID. Shifts couldn’t be filled and there were several MICA who were obviously getting close to retirement. And yet recruitment was slow, cumbersome, and made more difficult over time. The current shortage was inevitable and only exacerbated by COVID.
The community and the workforce suffer and those who failed to forward plan or react to the persistent indicators continue to absolve themselves of responsibility.
2022 will present many challenges. For the AEAV, our resolve is to continue to be the voice of our members and to call these parties out when they disrespect you all by downplaying and deflecting from the real problems. The reality seems to be that internally AV in particular is incapable of conceding where a mistake has been made and merely doubles down.
ESTA EXTERNAL REVIEW SUBMISSION
On 15 December 2021, AEAV made a submission to the State Government’s Independent Capability and Service Review of ESTA.
The AEAV submission seeks to secure funding for ESTA that will go a long way towards restoring the morale of a workforce that is operating under increasing demands and pressures, with no relief in sight. Without reform to the Inspector-General Emergency Management (IGEM) standards and increased baseline staffing levels at ESTA, the high-quality delivery of publicly funded emergency telecommunication services cannot be sustained as seen through the COVID-19 pandemic.
AEAV seeks a funding framework that provides for a direct operating budget to increase baseline staffing levels with the goal to respond to all emergency calls within 5 seconds. Below are the six recommendations AEAV has made to the Government, and you can read the full submission HERE.
The union would like to thank Delegate Sharyne Doensen (ESTA Tally Ho) who contributed many of her personal hours researching and contributing to the writing of this submission.
AV MOVING GOAL POSTS AND STAFF LOSING OUT
In recent weeks we have challenged AV on a number of matters. AV have shown that VEOHRC has had little impact on the way they manipulate their own policies, procedures and the Enterprise Agreement to the detriment of staff. It seems the resolve of AV and particularly People & Culture is to use new interpretations that impact on rights that have in some cases been exercised broadly and sometimes sporadically over many years.
Below we will touch on some of these matters:
AV – Independence on recruitment panels
AV have verbally indicated that three people from the same RMT can now sit on a panel and that the HR person will be considered the independent representative. This is despite the policy and procedure stating that there needs to be a line manager, a HR representative and an independent rep from outside the Region or Department. For operational positions, AV’s interpretation is now that the HR person can also be the independent person, even though they are part of the same RMT. Anyone who has worked in an RMT knows that this is absolute rubbish. The regions HR is part of the RMT and they often have close relationships with the operational managers. We do not believe this complies with the policy or procedure and will be ramping up our opposition in 2022.
AV – Spares not entitled to 10 hr break between nightshifts
As a result of a grievance we ran on behalf of a member, AV have decided that contacting staff within the 10 hr break between nightshifts does not constitute an interrupted break. This is of particular relevance for staff who are spare as they are more likely to be contacted to be allocated a shift. AV does not consider a phone call from AV as a period of duty. So effectively they are saying they can call you as often as they like and chat for as long as they like. Once again, we will be challenging this in 2022 and we will be investigating the option of Fatigue breaks in between shifts. You can read AV’s response to AEAV’s grievance HERE.
AV – Pay increments
AV have verbally indicated that their response to a grievance the AEAV submitted will be that not all staff are entitled to move through the increments whilst on continuous secondments. Some sectors of AV have been receiving increments whilst others have been specifically excluded and AV plan to keep it this way. So, some people who have been on secondment into specialist departments will be paid less than someone else who is substantive at the same level. Even though on some occasions the seconded member has trained the substantive member.
On these 3 matters above, we will be considering options to challenge the decisions internally and/or externally.
On Wednesday 15 December 2021, AEAV Secretary Brett Adie signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between ESTA and the unions for ESTA’s pandemic demand response initiatives.
ESTA wanted the union to agree to greater flexibility to move staff to alternate rosters. After many meetings with ESTA and conversations with members, the union reached an agreement with ESTA which will see ESTA staff receiving additional shift allowances and alternate rosters. AEAV encourage staff who are happy to take on the alternate rosters to do so. If members feel pressured to change rosters and do not wish to do so, please contact the union to discuss your workplace rights.
AEAV wrote to the Health Minister, Martin Foley to express non-emergency patient transport (NEPT) members anger in not being recognised for the vital work they have carried out during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic transporting covid positive patients, along with their usual workload which has significantly increased. The AEAV called on the Health Minister to value non-emergency transport members by allocating a surge support allowance, as was initiated for paramedics and healthcare workers.
The Minister responded to AEAV in writing to acknowledge “the continued dedication of all healthcare workers in supporting Victoria’s COVID-19 response and adapting to the challenging circumstances” before outlining that the Governments recent announcement of a new $32 million Healthcare Worker Wellbeing Program would enable NEPT workers to access meals or meal vouchers, and psychological counselling.
The union is disappointed that the government continues to treat NEPT members as the emergency services poor cousin. You can read the minister’s response HERE.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
An Uber passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question.
The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a tram, went up on the footpath, and stopped inches from a shop window.
For a second, everything was quiet in the Uber. Then the driver said, “Look mate, don’t ever do that again. You scared the living daylights out of me!”
The passenger apologised and said, “I didn’t realise I would scare you so much.”
The driver replied, “Sorry, it’s not really your fault. Today is my first day as an Uber driver — I’ve been driving a hearse for the last 25 years.”
KEEP IN TOUCH
As always, if you have any issues, questions or queries, get in touch by leaving a message on 9287 1713 or email [email protected]
And most importantly, please stay safe out there.
Brett Adie – AEAV Secretary
Authorised by Brett Adie, AEAV Secretary
833 Bourke St, Docklands, VIC 3008AEAV member queries: (03) 9287 1713 [email protected]