14.1% pay rise for paramedics

A TASMANIAN health union was won a 15-month fight to have the state's paramedics paid as professionals, in a decision that could cost the state government millions of dollars a year.

Paramedics were awarded a 14.1 per cent wage increase under a decision handed down by the Tasmanian Industrial Commission on Friday.

According to the Health and Community Services Union, this will see the top rate for a paramedic increase from $63,489 to $72,447.

The union requested last year that the commission review the work value of Tasmanian paramedics, arguing they should be assessed against their interstate counterparts as well as nurses and allied health professionals.

State secretary Tim Jacobson said the ``once-in-a-generation'' decision was a massive victory that recognised the changing role of about 300 paramedics working in the state.

Mr Jacobson said the job had changed dramatically since the work of paramedics was last assessed in 1989.

``It was essentially vocational training at the time _ so on-the-job training _ and now the learning is tertiary, you've got to do a bachelor of paramedic science, and the application of skills on the job are very much evidence-based,'' Mr Jacobson said.

But a spokesman for Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the state government was concerned about the cost of the wage rise, estimated at $7 million a year.

Asked whether Ambulance Tasmania or the state government would foot the bill, the spokesman said the decision was ``being analysed in terms of cost impacts and impacts across the state service''.

Mr Jacobson said it would be ``shameful'' of the state government to expect Ambulance Tasmania to fund the increase out of its budget.

``It's a significant bill, the ambulance service couldn't do that and we would not be be asking the ambulance service to do that,'' Mr Jacobson said.

``They wouldn't be able to employ sufficient numbers of paramedics, and that's why the Treasury and the state government needs to fund this out of its own revenue.''

Ambulance Tasmania did not comment.

jstephens@examiner.com.au or twitter @jodiestephens1

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