PARAMEDICS in Tasmania want to be recognised as professionals in an industrial test case that could cost the state government millions of dollars.
The Health and Community Services Union has lodged a claim on behalf of the state's 270 full-time equivalent paramedics that seeks professional status for the job and a 17 per cent pay increase to reflect that.
For a paramedic starting at the base level of $53,064, that would equate to a $9000 jump in pay.
It will be the first time in more than 20 years that the Tasmanian Industrial Commission has been asked to consider the work values of a paramedic.
HACSU acting state secretary Tim Jacobson said that over that time the demands, training and responsibilities of a paramedic had changed remarkably.
"The work of paramedics is now central to the work that's provided in the health system in general," Mr Jacobson said.
"No longer is it simply about transporting people. They are professionals and should be recognised as such.
"The sooner you treat people in terms of emergency medical conditions, the shorter the length of stay in hospital and the better the life outcome for that patient."
The commission could take months to consider the complex case that's been brought against the cash-strapped Tasmanian government, and whether it will order a reclassification.
Premier Lara Giddings has restricted all public sector workers to a 2.5 per cent pay rise when it comes to workplace bargaining in order to make considerable budget savings.
Similar cases lodged in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory over the past few years resulted in pay increases of 20 to 25 per cent for paramedics in those places.
Mr Jacobson said other states were also likely to follow suit.
"Increasingly what we're finding is, given the special nature of their work, paramedicine is becoming a more mobile profession just like nursing and allied health professionals," he said.
"So in order for us to maintain our presence and certainly our ability to attract and retain people we're going to have to continue to pay what the market demands."
The union will ask the commission to assess Tasmanian paramedics against their interstate counterparts, as well as nurses and allied health professionals. The base salary for a Tasmanian nurse is $56,135.