Nearly 1000 ambulance workers to strike, say patients won't be put at risk

Nearly 1000 St John ambulance workers have voted to take a series of strike actions to ensure patient safety is not put at risk.

According to a FIRST Union statement today, the partial strike actions are in support of a claim to have shift recognition payments.

Ambulance staff work a 12 - hour shift pattern that rotates over days, nights and weekends.

FIRST Union says the ambulance workers previously received shift recognition payments for night and weekend work, similar to other DHB related services like Nurses, however St John claims this has been incorporated into the hourly rate.

FIRST Union Transport Logistics and Manufacturing Divisional Secretary, Jared Abbott says if the rate really did factor in shift recognition, it would put many staff on pay rates below the minimum wage.

"The starting rate is below $20 dollars an hour, if recognition payments for night and weekend work are factored into this, many ambulance professionals would have to be on below the minimum wage.

"To claim that the current rates account for shift recognition is incorrect. New Zealand’s Ambulance Professionals are amongst the lowest paid in the developed world."

Mr Abbott says the first strike notice was served on St John this week for a ban on recalls to events, meaning frontline ambulance staff will not cover work where other staff have been removed from duty to do commercial event work.

"Our members feel very strongly about ensuring that patient safety is maintained during any industrial action.

"Event work, which is commercial income for St John, often gets priority over frontline services, so by refusing to come off the frontline to cover events actually makes more ambulance officers available for the public service."

FIRST Union says the strike action begins on November 14 and will continue until an agreement is reached. Members have also voted in favour of two further strike actions.

St John ambulance.
St John ambulance. Source: Supplied