St John became involved in the Professional Ambulance Service as Regional Health Boards reviewed core business models.
Over the last 40 years or maybe longer, regionally Health Boards transitioned their Ambulance services to St John. In the South Island the most recent example has been the Marlborough or Blenheim transition. In the North Island the Taranaki transition occurred around 2011.
As the regional boards released the service the officers, (previously orderlies) became employees of the Regional committees or Boards of St John. This meant numerous employment agreements were negotiated throughout the South Island and the Country. As different areas came across, St John upgraded the communications, or Comms Centres, in recent times there were two in the South Island, one in Dunedin, one in Christchurch. Regional areas were linked to the “local Comms Centres” and technology has continued up until today, where the Comms Centre has now moved into the “Justice Precinct” in Christchurch, covering all of the South Island with added capacity to be National.
It services areas through “desks” via call takers to dispatchers. In the early days prior to the centralisation policy the Southern Comms serviced all stations south of the Waitaki River.
Most Recent Events over the Last 15 Years:
With centralisation by St John the Union continued to match St Johns restructuring with the Regional Agreements, becoming a South Island agreement inline with the Regional structure of St John.
That meant a lot of restructuring of conditions of employment and remuneration, coupled with these changes were ever increasing demands being placed on officers both in drug administration, accountability, workload and shift work.
Regional rates remained an issue for years along with conditions of employment, and relativities between officers, and middle management.
Around 2010-2011, as St John consolidated nationally the 4 Unions representing officers NZ wide were encouraged to try and establish a national agreement for all ambulance officers of New Zealand along with Comms staff nationally and associate departments and Managerial sectors covering, Call Handling, Team Leaders, CCS Training Officers, CCS Quality Improvement Coordinators, Clinical Support Officers – Education/Coach Senior Clinical Support Officers, Group Managers and Duty Centre Managers, Station Managers, Shift Managers and Shift Supervisors. These titles exemplify the progression the service has made from the orderly days.
Both the Road/Comms and the Managers and Support Collectives were negotiated nationally after a 1 year working party. All parties namely the 3 regional Trust Boards and National Headquarters of St John up until 2017. Sadly, last year ‘First Union’ withdrew from the process and decided to sign off on their own agreement, while maintaining a national agreement. The other 3 Unions continued with the multi Union National Collective. Both AWUNZ Unions and NZAA will continue to work together in the best collective interests of all sectors of the Employment Agreement we are signatories to.
AWUNZ is privileged to represent Ambulance Officers and together with our network of delegates continue to provide a comprehensive service to members, AWUNZ is proud of its achievements in ensuring officers have a medical insurance policy. AWUNZ campaigned for over 5 years before securing the support of others nationally to push through a truly 5 star medical scheme; sadly the AWUNZ scheme has been diluted in recent years, but AWUNZ will continue to push for the reintroduction of as an equivalent scheme given the premiums being paid presently.
AWUNZ with the support of NZAA will continue to pursue other welfare benefits in the form of a retirement gratuity.
Again this is an initiative from AWUNZ in response to what we consider to be age banded issues, together with extended service and the impact on officers of maintaining ever increasing demands.
AWUNZ Clerical Telecare St John Collective:
AWUNZ provide coverage for the telecare staff, a significant service for St John which presently is undergoing reviews of employment matters around “on call” or standby issues.
The agreement does not provide the Medical Insurance for a member which is disappointing. We remain optimistic that we can make improvements in this sector, however maintaining membership in the sector is problematic.