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Ambo union ban on events starts

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/12/2016

An ban on attending summer events by St John ambulance staff in the First Union has started but St John says it won't affect any events.

The ban on attending events until February 6 by Ambulance Professionals First workers under the First Union was signalled earlier. The union says 1000 workers are involved, while St John says 800.

Union spokeswoman Lynette Blacklaws says volunteers and first responders will have to go to events where paramedics refuse to provide cover and some may be cancelled.

Norma Lane, St John director of clinical operations, says no events are impacted by the industrial action.

"We are committed to ensuring New Zealanders' holiday plans and summer events are not unduly disrupted by this action. It is disappointing the union is seeking to unnecessarily alarm the public."

She says First Union is seeking a 2 per cent pay rise, which is not affordable for St John. St John received an increase in funding for labour costs of 0.4 per cent for 2016/17 and is offering ambulance officers an increase of 1.25 per cent, backdated to July 1, 2016 and rising to a minimum of 1.7 per cent by 2018, plus additional leave, she says.

St John has previously reached an agreement with smaller unions, the Amalgamated Workers Union NZ Southern, Central Amalgamated Workers Union, NZ Ambulance Association and Ambulance Officers Workplace Union.

The remaining ambulance officers in parts of the upper and central North Island say their pay offer is poor.

Issues include single-crewing, prolonged work periods without tea breaks and a lack of skilled paramedics.

Ms Lane says St John has a mix of training levels among both paid and volunteer ambulance officers, including many volunteer paramedics.

"It is not correct to say volunteers are less qualified than paid staff. We value the contribution all our people make and the important service they provide, paid and unpaid, to the community."

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