High stakes in paramedic case

A LANDMARK case on paramedic wages, which could cost the state government millions of dollars, gets under way next week.

The state's 270 ambulance officers have applied to be paid as professionals - a move that would result in a 25 per cent pay rise or a $9000 increase on the base salary of $53,064.

The Tasmanian Industrial Commission will carry out site inspections next week before the trial starts the following week.

Health and Community Services Union assistant secretary Tim Jacobson said it was the first assessment of the work value of paramedics in more than 20 years.

"We're saying that the work now, as opposed to what it was in '89, has changed and should be assessed as professional," he said.

South Australia and the ACT have already acknowledged paramedics as professional.

"We train our paramedics in Tasmania very well," Mr Jacobson said.

"They are sought after not only in Australia but overseas, so we need to remain competitive."

At the same time, negotiations will start between the Health and Community Services Union over annual wage increases. The agreement expired in June 2012.

The union is seeking a pay increase of 2.5 per cent over three years.

Mr Jacobson said the request was modest because of the case before the commission and the fact that ambulance officers had not yet been subject to the wages cap of 2 per cent, plus 0.5 for productivity gains.

Their previous agreement was negotiated before the introduction of the cap in 2011.


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