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Ambos signal events ban for Christmas

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/12/2016

More than 800 ambulance professionals in the North Island are refusing to provide cover for summer events from just before Christmas.

Their "events ban" from December 17 will affect large events, including Christmas in the Park in Auckland.

E tu, the union that represents musicians, on Friday urged St John New Zealand to settle the dispute.

"Our members support this action, but we want to see the matter resolved. It would be a shame for families to miss out on cultural events this summer," says E tu co-ordinator Jill Ovens.

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 represented by Ambulance Professionals First, the network within First Union for 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.

"Many people don't realise ambulance staff are often working overtime to cover events," says spokeswoman Lynette Blacklaws.

"St John have traded off their staff's goodwill for too long and now staff are saying enough is enough."

She has previously said St John ambulances in Auckland will be staffed by unpaid volunteers under the pay deal struck with smaller unions.

St John said the provision for volunteers to work in the Auckland district to reduce fatigue and improve access breaks is for additional resources, and not replacement for paid staff.

The process for filling of vacant shift roster positions in Auckland aligned with the rest of the country, St John said.

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